State Watch

Republican governor of Arkansas says ‘Trump is dividing our party’

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Tuesday warned that former President Trump is “dividing” the Republican Party.

Hutchinson, who is barred from seeking a third term as governor in 2022, spoke to CNN’s John Berman about House Republicans attempting to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) from her position as the Republican Party’s conference chair over her criticisms of the former president.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday that he has officially scheduled a vote for Wednesday to remove Cheney from her post.

“Whenever we do not have the president in power from our party, you have divided leadership — you have many different voices,” Hutchinson said. “And former President Trump is dividing our party, and so it’s important that we not unite with someone who is dividing our party.” 

Hutchinson said that Cheney, who is the No. 3 House Republican, should not be “ousted for a vote of conscience.”

“I believe that we need to concentrate on more things that bring us together than to separate us, and going down and seeing former President Trump, to me, causes more division than anything else,” the outgoing governor said.

Hutchinson has been one of the GOP governors who has broken with Trump since the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The Arkansas leader has also pushed back on Trump’s involvement in party politics since leaving office. 

He knocked Trump’s “unhelpful” attacks on GOP leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and said he would not support Trump if he ran for the White House again in 2024.

“He should not define our future. We have got to define it for ourself,” Hutchinson said in February.

Cheney, one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump the second time, has continued to condemn the former commander in chief’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him. 

In an interview on “Fox & Friends” last week, McCarthy said that some members are concerned about Cheney’s ability to carry the message of the party.

In a letter to House GOP colleagues on Monday, McCarthy suggested that dissenting views are fine so long as they don’t undermine the broader goals of his leadership team.

“We are a big tent party. We represent Americans of all backgrounds and continue to grow our movement by the day. And unlike the left, we embrace free thought and debate,” McCarthy wrote in his letter.

“All members are elected to represent their constituents as they see fit,” he said. “But our leadership team cannot afford to be distracted from the important work we were elected to do and the shared goals we hope to achieve. The stakes are too high to come up short. I trust you agree.”

Trump, McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) have endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a key Trump ally, to replace Cheney as conference chair if she is successfully ousted.

Tags 2020 presidential election Asa Hutchinson Asa Hutchinson Donald Trump Donald Trump Elise Stefanik GOP Kevin McCarthy Liz Cheney Liz Cheney Mitch McConnell Republican Party Steve Scalise

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