House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said that no one is “questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election” on Wednesday, just hours after Republicans ousted Representative Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) from GOP leadership over her repeated criticisms of former President Donald Trump’s claim that the election was stolen.
Cheney, who served as House GOP Conference Chair, is likely to be replaced by Representative Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.), an ally of former President Trump who objected to the certification of President Biden’s Electoral College win.
Asked whether he has concerns about elevating Stefanik to a leadership position given her past claims about the election, McCarthy said he believes “that is all over with.”
“First of all the conference will decide,” McCarthy said. “But I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with. We’re sitting here with the president today. So from that point of view, I don’t think that’s a problem.”
However, last week a spokesperson for Stefanik told the Washington Post that there are still “serious concerns about the election that have not been addressed” after the congresswoman had recently backed baseless claims of voter fraud in Arizona.
Trump has continued to question the election results as well. He claimed earlier this week that votes in Michigan had been “intentionally switched from President Trump to Joe Biden.”
Stefanik, the only candidate running to replace Cheney, is backed by Trump, McCarthy and GOP Whip Steve Scalise.
Cheney has drawn the ire of her Republican colleagues repeatedly since she voted in favor of Trump’s second impeachment but previously survived a secret ballot the House GOP conference conducted in February over whether to keep her in her post. The momentum against her built as she continued to respond to Trump’s repeated claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
After Cheney continued to criticize Trump, McCarthy announced that a vote would be held to oust her from her leadership post.
“It had been my hope that our driving focus would be taking back the House in 2022 and implementing our Commitment to America,” McCarthy wrote in a statement announcing the vote. “Unfortunately, each day spent relitigating the past is one day less we have to seize the future.”
Still, ahead of the vote on Tuesday night, Cheney doubled down on her criticism of Trump during a speech on the House floor. She said the country is facing a “never seen before” threat in Trump, who she says “has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him.”
“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” Cheney said. “I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”