House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday implored Republicans to stop publicly attacking each other amid GOP infighting over the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots, which has created simmering tensions inside the conference.
During a private conference call, McCarthy told members that they should be spending more time countering the Biden agenda than chastising each other, adding he would no longer have any tolerance for such behavior, according to multiple sources on the call. McCarthy also reminded House Republicans that they will have an opportunity to air their grievances during a closed-door meeting in the Capitol next week, where a conservative-led push to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) over her vote to impeach President Donald Trump is expected to come to a head.
“If you’re not focused on what you’re doing and what the Democrats are doing wrong, and you’re focused on talking about one another, I’m not putting up with that anymore,” McCarthy said on the call, according to a source familiar with the conversation. “But, if you continue to do that, there won’t be a place for you. I want to be very clear to each and every one of you. … It is not a way we’re going to win the majority.”
“You elected me your leader, you can pull me out,” he added. “But I’ll tell you one thing that’s going to happen. I’m not going to sit back and watch us lose. I’m not going to sit back and watch us make self-inflicted wounds either.”
McCarthy issued a similar plea two weeks ago, warning Republicans that calling out a member by name to the press could put their colleagues in danger. There has been an uptick in threats against Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump; one lawmaker who voted to remove Trump from office, freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), even said he’s had to invest in body armor.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) has also quarreled with controversial freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Twitter, posting that Greene’s rhetoric could incite further insurrections.
Much of the fighting, however, has focused on Cheney, the No. 3 House GOP member. Republicans have warned that efforts to oust Cheney, the highest ranking woman in GOP leadership, could hurt the party’s efforts to win back the House in 2022.
Some House Republicans have ignored McCarthy’s advice and the intraparty warfare has continued publicly, to the frustration of the California Republican. It’s unclear, however, how exactly he plans to hold members accountable.
The Cheney question has become almost unavoidable in the press, with McCarthy himself being asked about her in a Sunday interview with Greta Van Susteren. And while McCarthy said he wants Cheney to keep her leadership job, he, too, offered up some public criticism of her during the interview: McCarthy said he has “concerns” with Cheney’s impeachment vote and called her out for not giving him a heads up on her position.
Meanwhile, conservative firebrand Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who has been one of the most vocal Cheney critics, will even campaign against Cheney in Wyoming this week.
“My only conversation with Kevin McCarthy, was after a TV hit, he asked me not to name members by name because we’ve all seen a substantial increase of death threats,” Gaetz told reporters this week. “I’ve subsided referencing people by name for a day or two. As Liz became more problematic with her divergence with the conference, it became untenable not to identify her as against the America First Vision.”
During Wednesday’s call with House Republicans, which was hosted by the House GOP’s campaign, multiple members pledged money to the NRCC. And McCarthy, who is fundraising in Florida this week, will meet with Trump on Thursday, sources confirmed. Those plans were first reported by Punchbowl News.