WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday went to bat for GOP Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney while condemning remarks from freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
McConnell issued a statement condemning the extremist views of Greene, whose support for QAnon and other conspiracy theories has drawn scorn from Democrats and some Republicans.
McConnell said the Georgia congresswoman’s embrace of conspiracy theories and “loony lies” is a “cancer for the Republican Party.”
“Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality,” McConnell said. “This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”
Democrats are for Greene to be censured, removed from her committee or even ousted from Congress as more of her social media activity from before she ran for office have been put in the spotlight. Her activity, including “likes” on posts that called for violence against prominent Democrats and posts that outlined wild conspiracies claiming a space laser may have caused deadly wildfires in California.
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The furor intensified after her appointment to the House Education and Labor Committee given the revelation in social media posts that she viewed shooting massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut (2012) and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas in Florida (2018) as staged events designed to help Democrats promote gun control.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, through a spokesman, indicated his displeasure with Greene following the unearthed social media posts.
McConnell calls Cheney ‘important leader’ in GOP
McConnell also stuck by Cheney on Monday, amid calls for her to be stripped of her leadership role in Congress because she voted for former President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
“Liz Cheney is a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them,” McConnell said in a statement to CNN. “She is an important leader in our party and in our nation. I am grateful for her service and look forward to continuing to work with her on the crucial issues facing our nation.”
Republicans including Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have called on her to step down or be removed as the GOP conference chair. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz traveled to Wyoming to rally against Cheney. Gaetz and other Republicans have previously called for her to step aside due to what they saw as insufficient support for the former president when she criticized him in the past.
Cheney, the third-ranking party leader, was one of 10 Republicans who broke ranks with their party in voting to impeach Trump in the House on the charge of inciting the insurrectionist mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
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“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of the attack,” Cheney said about her reason for voting to impeach. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
House Democrats invoked the words of Cheney’s statement in their arguments for impeaching him.
The House impeached Trump on Jan. 13 and the Senate is expected to begin the process of a trial to acquit or convict him the week of Feb. 8.
Other Republicans have come to Cheney’s defense in recent days, including Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who said on Twitter, “@Liz_Cheney has a hell of a lot more backbone than most, & is a principled leader with a fierce intellect. She will continue to be a much needed leader in the conference, with my full support.”
Cheney said she was “not going anywhere” amid early calls for her to step down.
Contributing: The Associated Press