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GOP leaders clash over Trump presence at CPAC

Two Republican leaders disagreed over former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE while standing feet away from each other at a press conference on Wednesday. 

The awkward moment between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyMcCarthy says Gaetz won't be punished unless charges filed Business groups oppose Paycheck Fairness Act, citing concerns it could threaten bonuses and negotiating McCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election MORE (R-Calif.) and House Republican Conference Chair Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyTrump backs Wyoming GOP chair, citing Cheney censure The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Trump mocks Murkowski, Cheney election chances MORE (R-Wyo.) during the House Republican leadership press conference highlighted the division over the future of the GOP.

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When asked whether Trump should speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, McCarthy — who served as one of Trump’s move vocal allies in Congress during the course of his administration — quickly asserted he believes that yes, Trump “should” be present at the annual GOP event slated to take place in Orlando, Fla., this weekend. It will be Trump's first public political speech since leaving office.

But Cheney — one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 — then noted she has been vocal in her position that she doesn’t believe Trumpism should be embraced as the future of the GOP.

“That’s up to CPAC," she said. "I’ve been clear about my views about President Trump and the extent to which, following Jan. 6, I don’t think he should be playing a role in the future of party."

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McCarthy then wrapped the press conference by quipping, ”On that high note, thank you very much.”

Cheney’s earlier rebuke of Trump has led to pushback from the far-right faction of the Republican Party, with a group of conservatives unsuccessfully attempting to oust her from her leadership position earlier this month. Her critics argue that her views don’t represent the majority of the party.

Her allies have defended her as a critical voice for Republicans, arguing her views demonstrate the GOP is a big tent party.

McCarthy is slated to appear alongside Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) at CPAC on Saturday, where they are expected to discuss the GOP’s path to winning back the majority, messaging efforts and working with 2024 presidential hopefuls.

“Jim Banks is acting a whole lot more like the conference chair than Liz Cheney, who is completely out of touch,” said one senior GOP source who is critical of Cheney.