May 10, 2021
BY: NATHANIEL BALLANTYNE
TRUENEWSBLOG- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is backing the removal of his No. 3 leader, Liz Cheney, after her repeated criticism of Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was marred by widespread fraud. Yet just two months ago, in March, McCarthy himself denied that his objections to certifying the presidential ballot in two states amounted to an attempt to overturn Trump’s loss.
“It takes 270. If you remove Arizona and Pennsylvania, President Biden is still president — he’s above 270,” McCarthy told a CNN reporter who pressed him while describing Republican attempts to “overturn” the 2020 election.
Trump has offered a much different narrative of a “fake” presidential election — as the former president put it on Sunday. In another statement slamming Cheney last week, Trump envisioned “a far different presidential result” had then-Vice President Mike Pence declined to accept the will of the voters in two of six states.
The difference between McCarthy’s depiction of the certification votes on Jan. 6 and Trump’s version of events is more than rhetorical. As House Republicans hasten to replace Cheney with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who challenged certification of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, some of them are trying to have it both ways: They are trying to assuage Trump’s unfounded belief that widespread voter fraud cost him the White House while also arguing that Biden’s win was legitimate.
With Democrats preparing to try to put Trump effectively back on the ballot in next year’s midterms, we can expect to hear a lot more House Republicans being pressed to explain whether their votes on Jan. 6 amounted to an attempted overturning of Biden’s 2020 victory.
McCarthy is hardly the only one getting pushed for clarification. Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), who’s seeking an open Senate seat next year, voted against certifying both the Arizona and Pennsylvania results. He wrote later in January that “this was never about overturning the election result, it was about forcing a discussion that millions of Americans wanted us to have.” He told The Associated Press last month that Biden “won the vote on Jan. 6, and I think he is the legitimate president.”
GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin, who’s running for governor in his home state of New York, offered a sharper rejoinder when our colleagues at Playbook tried to pin him down as to whether Biden’s victory was legitimate. Zeldin also voted against certification in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Ultimately, Zeldin concurred with the verb “won” to describe Biden’s victory.
Expect more questions like these: What did Liz Cheney say about Trump’s 2020 defeat that was inaccurate?
Republicans may have set a trap for themselves by removing Cheney that will force them — contrary to McCarthy’s hopes — to look backward as often as forward during their campaign to retake the House.