House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Ditches Liz Cheney, Backs Elise Stefanik

US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has confirmed that he supports Elise Stefanik to replace House Republican Conference Chair Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House and one of the few in her party who refuses to march in lockstep with former President Donald Trump.

"Yes, I do," Xinhua news agency quoted McCarthy as saying to Fox News on Sunday.

Stefanik, a Congresswoman from New York, thanked McCarthy for his support in a tweet later on Sunday.

"We want to be united and looking -- moving forward and I think that's what will take place," McCarthy said.

Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney
Many Republican leaders including Mitt Romney (left) and Liz Cheney oppose Trump and his radicalization of the GOP Wikimedia Commons

Steve Scalise, the No. 2 role of House Republican leadership, publicly endorsed Stefanik for replacing Cheneyy.

Trump also endorsed Stefanik, saying in a statement earlier this month that she "is a far superior choice, and she has my complete and total Endorsement for Republican Conference Chair".

Cheney, who faces a vote to oust her from the influential Republican leadership post as early as Wednesday, said last week she would continue to speak out against Trump's "cult of personality" regardless of the political consequences she might face.

Party at Turning Point

"The Republican Party is at a turning point," said Cheney, who was among the 10 House Republicans having voted to impeach Trump for inciting the January 6 Capitol riot which left five people dead.

Cheney's fate is widely thought to underscore Trump's massive and continuing importance in the Republican Party.

The party's move to oust Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, from her No. 3 leadership post was recently precipitated when she greeted President Joe Biden at the Capitol and tweeted that hewon the election fair and square, countering Trump's narrative of a stolen election.

A CNBC poll in February found that 74 per cent of Republicans wanted Trump to stay active in the party, and nearly half wanted him to remain head of the the party.