Biden: McCarthy’s support of Cheney ouster is ‘above my paygrade’

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President Biden said on Wednesday that House Republicans voting to purge Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her leadership role earlier in the day was “above my paygrade.”  

When asked by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell how he could trust House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy after the California Republican at first supported keeping Cheney in leadership, then favored her ouster weeks later, Biden said he would trust a man’s word.

“If a man looks me in the eye, gives me his word that something’s going to happen, I take it unless he breaks it. He may have broken his word to somebody else, but to me, has he made that deal — we’re nowhere near having made a deal. We agree that we should try to get a bipartisan agreement,” Biden said.

“But the Liz Cheney-McCarthy thing is above my paygrade. I mean, I have enough trouble figuring out my own party all the time, let alone the Republicans,” he added.

McCarthy was among the four congressional leaders who met with Biden at the White House on Wednesday, hours after the vote to expel Cheney from her House conference chair position. The leaders met to discuss Biden’s more than $2 trillion infrastructure proposal.

Biden told O’Donnell he was “encouraged” about an infrastructure deal afterward. The meeting focused on the definition of infrastructure and the parties remain at odds over how to pay for it.

O’Donnell also asked Biden if he was shocked that there was only one House Republican, Cheney, to acknowledge the 2020 presidential outcome in the Democrats favor.

“I think I heard Kevin McCarthy say today Biden’s a duly elected president,” Biden responded.

Following the White House meeting, McCarthy told reporters, “I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with. We’re sitting here with the president today. From that point of view, I don’t think that’s a problem.” 

McCarthy was among more than 140 Republican lawmakers who voted to overturn some state election results even after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

Tags Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Lawrence O'Donnell Liz Cheney
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