While speaking to reporters after his meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) was asked about his caucus’s decision to vote out Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) from her party’s leadership position in Congress, and to comment on members of his party who still dispute the outcome of the 2020 presidential race.
Cheney had lost a voice vote among members of her party earlier in the day in large part for her refusal to cease telling the truth about the election — that Biden had won, and that Trump was wrong to suggest the election was “stolen” from him through discredited conspiracy theories.
McCarthy, responding to reporters’ queries, made what many may find a surprising comment, saying that he doesn’t believe anyone disputes Biden won the presidential election.
“Well, first of all, the conference will decide, but I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with sitting here with the president today,” McCarthy said.
The House minority leader’s words are curious, to say the least, considering that he has already endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-New York) to take Cheney’s now-vacated position. Stefanik, who has touted herself in the past as a moderate, has taken a more pro-Trump tone in the last year, and voted against certifying the 2020 election results when Congress met on January 6 — the same day that a mob of Trump loyalists numbering in the hundreds breached the U.S. Capitol building in order to disrupt that very process.
Trump himself has also continued to push the “big lie” about his loss to Biden. In a statement he made on Monday, Trump bizarrely compared the election to a robbery at a jewelry store, and suggested that he deserved to be reinstated as president.
“If a thief robs a jewelry store of all of its diamonds (the 2020 Presidential Election), the diamonds must be returned,” Trump wrote on his website.
In another statement he previously made on the same site on Tuesday, Trump repeated the lie that the election was “stolen” from him and his supporters.
Whatever the reasons behind McCarthy’s comments on Wednesday, his assertion that nobody is “questioning the legitimacy” of Biden’s win doesn’t appear to be in line with the opinions of a majority of the voters in his party. A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in April found that 60 percent of Republicans across the country said the election was stolen from Trump.
In another question from that poll, only 27 percent of GOP voters said the election was “legitimate and accurate,” while 55 percent said the outcome was the “result of illegal voting or election rigging.” Eighteen percent said they didn’t know.
These attitudes persist in spite of the fact that there is no evidence of election fraud affecting the outcome of the presidential race. Dozens of court challenges in the aftermath of the election failed to convince state and federal judges (including judges appointed by Trump himself) on the need to erase Biden’s win, as they did not contain any proof that warranted doing so.