McCarthy won't back effort to oust Cheney

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will not support an effort by a group of House conservatives to oust House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her leadership role, a spokesman for the California Republican confirmed on Thursday. 

Cheney has come under fire for her decision to support impeaching President Trump for inciting last week's riot at the U.S. Capitol that left five dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) began circulating a petition on Wednesday to have the conference remove Cheney - the No. 3 Republican in the House and highest-ranking GOP woman - from her leadership position.  

Top Trump allies including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have announced they will back the effort, arguing the conference should hold a vote. 

Critics argue that the timing of Cheney's announcement, which came one day before the impeachment vote, placed members in a bind and didn't reflect the overarching views of the conference. 

"When Representative Cheney came out for impeachment today, she failed to consult with the Conference, failed to abide by the spirit of the rules of the Republican Conference, and ignored the preferences of Republican voters," Rosendale said in a statement on Wednesday. "She is weakening our conference at a key moment for personal political gain and is unfit to lead.  She must step down as Conference Chair." 

Cheney said she does not plan to step down from her position. 

"I'm not going anywhere. This is a vote of conscience. It's one where there are different views in our conference. But our nation is facing an unprecedented, since the civil war, constitutional crisis," she said on Wednesday.  

"That's what we need to be focused on. That's where our efforts and attention need to be."

Conservatives can start the process of ousting Cheney if 20 percent of the GOP conference signs on to a petition.