House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is working behind the scenes to help certain House Republicans stave off primary challenges from GOP candidates backed by former President Donald Trump and who are supportive of his so-called ‘MAGA’ agenda, a CNN correspondent claimed on Friday.
Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona reported that McCarthy “is not totally aligned with” Trump “because the House majority is potentially on the line.”
She went on to say that a number of House Republicans who supported impeaching the former president after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot are in “critical swing districts” that could be won in GOP primaries by a Trump-backed candidate but not the general election in the fall of 2022.
“So, behind the scenes, Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and his team have been working to prevent that. They have raised $100,000 each for five of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach,” Zanona continued.
“McCarthy has also privately asked Trump to back off at least two of them — David Valadao (Calif.) and John Katko (N.Y.) — who are both potentially vulnerable and who are also very close to McCarthy,” she said, adding that though the National Republican Congressional Committee “doesn’t get involved in primaries, I have learned that NRCC chairman [Rep.] Tom Emmer [Minn.] did attend a fundraiser last month” for Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Wash., who also voted to impeach Trump.
“So look, all of this is putting them in a real bind,” Zanona continued. “The right is very upset that they’re not getting behind Trump’s revenge campaign.”
The CNN correspondent said she interviewed Joe Kent, a MAGA-supporting GOP candidate who is running against Herrera Beutler and has been endorsed by the former president who had words for the minority leader.
“McCarthy is talking out of one side of his mouth — saying that he supports the MAGA movement, Trump and President Trump’s policies,” Kent said, according to Zanona. “But his money is supporting Jamie Herrera Beutler and four of the other impeachment voters. It’s just part of the GOP grift. So me and the rest of the base, we’ve kind of have heard enough from them.”
She also said that Kent told her he would not vote for McCarthy to become House Speaker if the GOP manages to take back the majority during the midterms.
“So you can see why this is becoming such a headache for Kevin McCarthy and how this revenge tour could really complicate the GOP’s path back to [the] majority,” Zanona said.
She went on to say that McCarthy “is not going to lift a finger” to help the reelection campaigns of Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, two more anti-Trump Republicans who also supported impeachment.
McCarthy has already removed Cheney from leadership and is under pressure to remove her and Kinzinger from the Republican conference, Zanona said, noting further that there is “no risk” of Cheney’s seat going to a Democrat and Kinzinger’s seat may be eliminated in Illinois’ Democrat-controlled redistricting after the Census.
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