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McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal

McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal
© Greg Nash

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPortman: Republicans are 'absolutely' committed to bipartisan infrastructure bill Graham calls voting rights bill 'biggest power grab' in history The wild card that might save Democrats in the midterms MORE (Ky.) said on Wednesday that he stands by his praise of Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyCheney: 'It is disgusting and despicable' to see Gosar 'lie' about Jan. 6 GOP's Stefanik defends Trump DOJ secret subpoenas McCarthy pushes back on Biden criticism of GOP at NATO MORE (R-Wyo.) but repeatedly declined to weigh in on her removal from House GOP leadership. 

McConnell — asked during a Fox News interview about his February remarks where he called Cheney a "leader of deep conviction" and an "important leader in our party and our nation" — said he hadn't changed his stance on the Wyoming Republican. 

"Well, there is no change. I stand by what I said about Liz Cheney before. I'm a great admirer of hers. But as to who is supposed to be in the leadership in the House, that's up to House Republicans," McConnell said. 

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McConnell's remarks come after House Republicans voted in a closed-door meeting on Wednesday to oust Cheney from the conference chair spot over her criticism of former President TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE for repeatedly making false claims that the election was "stolen." 

Asked if he thought the decision to oust Cheney was a good decision, McConnell replied, "Look, it's up to the House to make these kinds of decisions."

Trump's legal team lost dozens of court battles over the results in key states, some of his top administration officials have said the election wasn't stolen and election experts have dismissed claims of widespread fraud. 

McConnell voted to acquit Trump at the end of his second impeachment trial earlier this year but has blamed him as "morally responsible" for the Jan. 6 attack, when a mob of his supporters breached the Capitol building, interrupting the counting of the Electoral College vote and forcing the House and Senate to be moved to secure locations. 

He also dismissed claims of widespread fraud or the election being stolen and warned that trying to overturn the results in Congress would put democracy in a "death spiral."

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“I supported the president’s right to use the legal system, dozens of lawsuits. …. But over and over the courts rejected these claims, including all-star judges whom the president himself has nominated," McConnell said on Jan. 6 shortly before the attack. 

But McConnell has gone near silent on Trump since rebuking him at the end of his impeachment trial in February. He sidesteps questions about the former president, trying to put the focus back on the Biden administration, and doesn't directly mention Trump when discussing the former administration. 

Asked if he disagrees with Cheney's comments, made from the House floor last night, that Trump "provoked a violent attack on the Capitol" and "risks inciting further violence," McConnell demurred. 

"I don't know how many times I have to tell you I'm focusing on dealing with the conditions we find ourselves in now," he said. 

"With regard to the election, I voted to certify the election. I expressed myself on that issue on several different occasions several months ago. But now we're in May," McConnell added.