“I was stunned. I couldn’t imagine any excuse for that,” Cheney said of McCarthy’s visit to Trump during an episode of David Axelrod’s “Fax Files” podcast, which was recorded on Saturday afternoon as part of the University of Chicago Alumni Weekend event. “And I asked him why he did it, and he said, well, he was just in the neighborhood, essentially.”
Republicans in the House ousted Cheney from her leadership position last month for publicly rejecting Trump’s lie that he had won the election – a ouster that McCarthy backed. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has repeatedly clashed with McCarthy, who tried to join Trump and later the Republican base by entering mid-2022.
Cheney’s speech on Saturday underscored her commitment to rejecting Trump’s baseless allegations of election fraud and characterization of the revolt, despite losing his place in the leadership because of his position. Trump continued to spread lies about Saturday night’s election as he spoke to the Republican Party in North Carolina, shattering Republicans’ hopes that he wants to maintain a tighter political focus as Republicans take offense in 2022.
“Like I said, I think what Donald Trump did is the most dangerous thing, the grossest violation of any president’s oath in our history,” Cheney said earlier Saturday. “So the idea that a few weeks after he did that, the Republican leader in Parliament would be in Mar-a-Lago, essentially, you know, asking him to come back in some way, or whatever he was doing. , it was unforgivable for me. “
Cheney also compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of the Chinese Communist Party, arguing that questioning the federal electoral system was comparable to the group’s efforts to discredit American democracy.
“When you listen to Donald Trump speak now, when you hear the language he uses now, these are essentially the same things that the Chinese Communist Party, for example, says about the United States and our democracy,” she said.
“When he says that our system is not working … when he assumes that it is, you know, incapable of transmitting the will of the people, you know that it has somehow failed – these are the same things that the Chinese government is saying for us, “Cheney continued.” And that’s very dangerous and harmful … and it’s not true. ”
McCarthy changed his tune regarding Trump’s accountability for the Jan. 6 riot, which injured more than 100 police officers, stopped counting votes at the Electoral College for more than five hours in Congress, and forced lawmakers to block when protesters against Trump defeated the U.S. Capitol Police Department. A week after the uprising, McCarthy said that while he did not support Trump’s impeachment, he was “responsible for Wednesday’s attack by congressional mobsters.”
But about two weeks later, the California Republican visited Trump in Mar-a-Lago, where the two Republicans discussed a strategy to win a majority in the House of Representatives in the middle of next year, according to a reading of the meeting provided by the Trump Political Action Committee. Save America Then CNN reported that Trump was focusing his political energy on targeting Cheney.
In May, McCarthy announced that he opposed the formation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack, an effort that failed in the Senate later that month when Senate Republicans blocked it.
As McCarthy backed Cheney in her first leadership vote in February after voting for Trump’s impeachment, their relationship fell apart as Cheney continued to speak out against the former CSO president’s grip. McCarthy backed his opponent, New York’s Elise Stefanick, who ultimately defeated Cheney in the Republican parliamentary vote last month.
Hannah Rabinowitz of CNN, Marshall Cohen, Jeremy Herb, Michael Warren, Devon M. Sayers, Jamie Gangel, Ryan Nobles, Manu Raju, Annie Grayer and Lauren Fox contributed to this report.