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As House GOP faces decision on its future, McConnell defends Cheney, rebukes Greene in rare set of statements

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks during a news conference on Jan. 26. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday delivered a scathing rebuke of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s actions and defended Rep. Liz Cheney’s decision to vote to impeach former president Donald Trump, weighing in for the first time on the criticism facing both lawmakers.

The statements together are both an unusual venture from a Senate leader onto the other chamber’s turf and an unmistakable signal to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that, for the party’s sake, he must sideline extremists such as Greene (R-Ga.) and maintain a place for traditional Republicans such as Cheney (R-Wyo.).

On Wednesday morning, House Republicans will hold a conference-wide meeting during which the actions of both lawmakers are expected to be discussed.

In the statement on Greene, first reported by the Hill, McConnell did not mention the freshman lawmaker by name but listed a series of actions that describe her pattern of inflammatory behavior.

“Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country,” McConnell said. “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality. This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”

Greene responded Monday night on Twitter. “The real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully,” she said. “This is why we are losing our country.”

A resolution to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) from Congress was drafted on Jan. 28, following her recently unveiled endorsements of political violence. (Video: The Washington Post)

In a separate statement, McConnell did name Cheney, describing the No. 3 House Republican as “a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them.”

“She is an important leader in our party and in our nation,” McConnell said in the statement, first reported by CNN. “I am grateful for her service and look forward to continuing to work with her on the crucial issues facing our nation.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, House Republicans are expected to debate whether to oust Cheney from her spot as the No. 3 member of their party’s leadership in the chamber.

In the weeks since her vote to impeach Trump on the charge of incitement of insurrection, Cheney has also faced a backlash from Trump allies, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who spoke at an anti-Cheney rally in Wyoming last week.