The Inside Story: How Kevin McCarthy got to keep Liz Cheney and at the same time appease Donald Trump's wing of the party

The inside story on how Kevin McCarthy played both sides amid strife within the Republican Party.


 

From left to right: Marjorie Taylor Greene, Kevin McCarthy, Liz Cheney, Steve Scalise ( Photo: The Pavlovic Today illustration)

On Tuesday night at The Capital Grille, the ultimate place in Washington DC to see and be seen, normally convivial Republican Congressmen and Congresswomen had broken up into groups, in what seemed like segregation along infighting party lines. What stood out in the dining room full of Congress members was the only senator, Ted Cruz, sitting at a table with his party, maskless and with the allure of self-importance politicians usually have.

As the night unfolded, Senator Cruz could be seen enjoying a spirited conversation with members of Congress allied with Donald J. Trump. 

On that same Tuesday night, the Steering Committee gathered to give recommendations to the Republican caucus on Liz Cheney's and Marjorie Taylor Greene's fate. The foregone conclusion that came out of the Steering Committee was that McCarthy had spoken with Greene, that she was given an ultimatum she did not accept and that she would be reprimanded.

Liz Cheney was to survive, since not only McCarthy had her back, but Steve Scalise, who's very close with her, was supporting her to also remain in the party's leadership. 

"If you are sitting at the table, you don't have to wear a mask. But if you're standing up, you do," Cruz could be overheard at The Capital Grille mocking the mask-wearers. For someone who was exposed to COVID and had to quarantine for two weeks, Senator Cruz was quite nonchalant, making comments in plain sight where anyone could hear him. 

***

On Wednesday morning, The Pavlovic Today's GOOD MORNING DC published a scoop brought by a GOP insider familiar with the Steering Committee's recommendations that Greene would be reprimanded and that Liz Cheney would win.

What happened between the time we printed the story and now is that Kevin McCarthy came up with a politically calculated strategic move, in signature DC style.  

Knowing that he's going to save Liz Cheney and send Greene into a free fall without having to do anything himself, McCarthy had a chat with Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader. 

Hoyer stated that Greene needed to be removed. McCarthy said no.

The Democrats made a statement condemning McCarthy, determined to move to remove Greene from the committees. However, if it all works out the way McCarthy hopes it would, the Democrats are giving McCarthy an easy way out. All McCarthy needs to do now is blame the Democrats.

Since the Democrats are going to vote on Thursday to remove Marjorie Taylor Green, McCarthy is backing Liz Cheney and using Greene to pressure the Democrats to make them look bad. McCarthy is using this as a political posture to engage the Democrats in a fight, betting that the Democrats removing her from the committee will work against them.

"What McCarthy thought was I'm going to support Liz Cheney, but I'm not gonna move on Greene. I'm going to let the Democrats go after Greene. And that's going to work against the Democrats because people are going to say she's freely elected and she should be serving", a Republican source who was in the room told me.

Greene's future could likely end up just like Steve King's. After he made the comments about the KKK, they removed him from all committee assignments. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", an old adage goes. 

In a politically calculated move, McCarthy is making Marjorie Taylor Greene a martyr as he thinks that the people are going to be angry once the Democrats go after her. McCarthy is ditching Greene effectively, leaving her to the Democrats to do the dirty work for him.

The Republicans are all in an all-out war with each other. The events we see this week mark a truly seminal moment for the Republican Party.

Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican, says the 11th commandment of Roland Reagan but Republicans, all of them, have broken it over and over again. Some in an attempt to save the soul of the party and some for pure preservation purposes. They all have in common, though, a motivation to dictate the direction in which the party will go. 

Will Republicans break the ranks?

Republicans may start breaking ranks to send a message that this is not the direction they want their party to go. Now what Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy know they have to do, Liz Cheney included, as she's still going to be in leadership, is to whip their caucus with the Republicans to make sure that none of them break the ranks and support the Democrats in removing Greene. 

"Greene, she's a freshman, no one knows her. She's in trouble. She's going to lose anyway because the Democrats are going to vote overwhelmingly against her. McCarthy is trying everything that he can to serve as a bridge to the two sides of the Republican Party. And that's what that move was today. But, if Republicans break ranks tomorrow, then he has a lot more work to do," a Republican insider who was in the room told me. 

Marjorie Taylor Greene got standing ovations in the House conference meeting, sources who were in the room revealed. 

“Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Ted Cruz, these are the ones who are leading the charge for her, because they believe this is all about MAGA,” a source added. 

Is the Republican Party going to be the party of Abraham Lincoln, as it has been for the last 150 years? Or is it going to be the party of Donald Trump, as it has been the last four years? We are moments away from finding out.

As for tonight, Liz Cheney, as Good Morning DC predicted, won. 

***

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