House Republicans will meet Wednesday afternoon to address simmering intraparty tensions after former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment, with debate expected around Rep. Liz Cheney’s impeachment vote and the controversy ignited by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s history of espousing conspiracy theories.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., met with Greene Tuesday night over her committee assignments, and even convened the GOP Steering Committee – which assigns committee seats – to discuss the issue, though no final decision about Greene’s situation was made.
Cheney, the chair of the conference and a member of House GOP leadership, faces intense criticism from Trump’s most ardent supporters in the House, who have excoriated her and nine other Republicans for voting to impeach the president for inciting the Capitol riot.
Some lawmakers, including Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have threatened to oust her from leadership, and claim to have the support of more than 100 Republicans to do so. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., even traveled to Cheney’s home state of Wyoming last week to rally her constituents against her.
“This civil war in the Republican Party that we may be on the precipice of is not one in which the outsiders fired the first shot,” Gaetz said Tuesday night, referencing Cheney’s support last year for a primary challenge to Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, which Gaetz and other conservatives objected to at the time. “My focus is on replacing Liz Cheney because I don’t think she represents our conference.”
Gaetz and other Cheney critics would need to submit a petition for a special conference meeting for House Republicans to take up a vote on Cheney’s leadership post, according to a GOP leadership aide. The petition would need at least 43 signatures of House GOP lawmakers.
The measure wouldn’t be taken up immediately in the closed-door meeting without approval from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy or the support of at least two-thirds of the conference, approximately 140 House Republicans.
Greene, a vocal supporter of Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud and efforts to overturn the election results, has been condemned by Democrats and many Republicans for embracing numerous conspiracy theories in videos and social media activity before she took office this year.
In posts and videos from 2018 and 2019 reviewed by CNN, Greene appeared to endorse violence against prominent Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and suggested that the Sandy Hook and Parkland shootings were staged ‘false flag’ operations.
Greene has not denied making the comments on social media or in recorded videos, but said other people had access to her accounts in a statement posted to Twitter.
Democrats have called on McCarthy to remove Greene from the House Budget and Education Committees and are threatening to do so with a resolution on the House floor if the California Republican doesn’t begin that process himself.
Some Democrats have introduced measures to censure Greene on the House floor, and even expel her from the chamber, which would be an extraordinary step that would require the support of roughly 70 House Republicans.
McConnell and Senate Republicans have loudly criticized the freshman House member, and McConnell issued a statement Monday blasting her “loony lies and conspiracy theories.
While House Republicans have largely condemned Greene’s comments, some members are reluctant to punish Greene for comments made before she was elected to serve in Congress. Sources close to McCarthy have argued that the Greene situation isn’t analogous to the leader’s handling of Rep. Steve King – the former Iowa congressman stripped of his committee assignments for comments made about white supremacy – for that reason.
McCarthy met with Greene in his office Tuesday evening, though no decision was made on her committee assignments. While Republicans have largely condemned Greene’s comments, McConnell issued a statement Monday blasting her “loony lies and conspiracy theories,” they have argued that Greene shouldn’t be punished for comments made before she was elected to serve in Congress.
The House Republican leader has kicked a member of Congress out of a committee before for comments he made.
Former GOP Rep. Steve King, the Iowa hardliner who was pushed off committees by McCarthy last year, came under fire after comments he made about white supremacy that came in an interview with the New York Times while serving in Congress.
McCarthy may also face questions Wednesday about his leadership over the last few weeks. Some Republicans have privately complained that he did not offer members enough consistent messaging around how to respond to Trump’s second impeachment after the Capitol riot.
Speaking on the floor of the House during the impeachment debate, McCarthy said Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack on the Capitol, but later said in an interview with Greta Van Susteren that “everybody across the country has some responsibility.”
McCarthy traveled to Palm Beach, Florida, last week to meet with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago Club, in an effort to mend his relationship with the former president and intraparty tensions following the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol.
The California Republican has said he supports Cheney remaining in leadership, but that members have questions about how she announced her support for impeachment, a statement that was released ahead of the House vote, and repeatedly referenced by Democrats during floor debate.