(CNN)Former President Donald Trump is weighing in on the fight to replace Rep. Liz Cheney in the House Republican Party’s leadership, blasting Cheney, endorsing her possible replacement and staying in touch with Republicans on Capitol Hill as the effort gets underway.
On Wednesday, Trump publicly backed Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to replace Cheney, releasing a statement saying the congresswoman “is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair.”
Stefanik embraced Trump’s endorsement in a Tweet.
“Thank you President Trump for your 100% support for House GOP Conference Chair. We are unified and focused on FIRING PELOSI & WINNING in 2022!” she wrote.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been in contact with Trump about the mounting effort to oust Cheney from the No. 3 leadership position as GOP conference chairwoman, according to senior Trump adviser Jason Miller.
“They’ve definitely spoken recently … within the last couple of days for sure,” Miller, who spent last weekend with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club, told CNN in a text message late Tuesday evening.
“They may have even spoken today,” he added.
A second source confirmed to CNN that McCarthy and Trump had been in touch.
In a new statement Wednesday, Trump called Cheney a “warmonger” “who has virtually no support left in the Great State of Wyoming.”
Though McCarthy’s relationship with Trump remains strained after he stood by Cheney following her vote to impeach Trump earlier this year, the top House Republican has been working to repair the relationship with a visit to Mar-a-Lago in late January and frequent outreach to the ex-president and his team. Despite supporting McCarthy’s push to dump Cheney from the GOP’s leadership ranks, one person close to the former president said Trump was still bitter over the California Republican’s initial support for Cheney and suggested it would take some time for the relationship between both men to fully heal.
“McCarthy made his choice. He chose Cheney over Trump and he chose business as usual over draining the swamp,” this person said.
In recent days, however, McCarthy and Trump have worked together in an effort to boost Stefanik’s campaign to be the new conference chairwoman.
Trump has long been a fan of Stefanik, who is angling to replace Cheney if she fails to survive a potential vote of confidence when House Republicans reconvene for their next conference-wide meeting, which could come as soon as May 12.
McCarthy has been privately supporting Stefanik to replace Cheney, and the No. 2 member of House Republican leadership, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, publicly endorsed Stefanik’s bid for the job on Tuesday.
Two sources familiar with Cheney’s conversations with members told CNN that she feels at peace with where she has stood on the election, on the January 6th deadly riot at the Capitol and her comments about Trump. Her calculation is that it is not worth trying to keep the leadership position if it requires lying about the election or the events that transpired leading up to January.
Cheney and Trump
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