Kevin McCarthy slams Romney as not ‘effective in any shape or form’

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday took a shot at Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah — the lone Republican to vote to convict President Donald Trump.

“I don’t think Romney is effective in any shape or form,” McCarthy told a group of reporters outside the House chamber.

But McCarthy dodged questions about whether Romney should be expelled from the Republican Conference, which some Trump allies have called for. He also wouldn’t discuss whether it was appropriate for Trump to question the Utah Republican’s Mormon faith. In announcing that he would vote “guilty” on the abuse of power charge during Wednesday’s Senate impeachment vote, Romney got choked up while discussing how his decision was guided by his faith.

While Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming said she disagreed with Romney’s decision, she had a different take than McCarthy: She called him a “man of conscience” and said he is a “real value for us to have in the Senate.

“Senator Romney is a good and honorable man,” Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, said in an interview. “And I don’t think anybody ought to question his faith.”

Trump, speaking during a National Prayer Breakfast in Washington Thursday morning, complained that some people use “religion as a crutch,” though he didn’t mention Romney by name.

“I never heard the president use the word ‘Romney’ at the prayer breakfast,” said McCarthy, who was also in attendance.

McCarthy, one of Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, kept his troops together during the impeachment vote in the House and helped deliver a bipartisan vote against both articles. Trump and his allies were hoping for a repeat in the Senate, but Romney broke ranks to join all Democrats in voting to remove the president on one charge — the first senator in American history to vote to convict a president from their own party.

Trump on Thursday praised McCarthy during a victory speech at the White House, predicting that the backlash to impeachment would help Republicans win back the House this November.

“Kevin McCarthy has done an incredible job,” Trump said. “You’ll be speaker of the House. I really believe it.”

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee and helped defend Trump from impeachment, said he was “very surprised” by Romney’s decision and said there is “a lot of anger” among Republicans over the defection. But Stewart added that he doesn’t think Romney should be punished for his vote.

“If we expelled everyone who voted differently, than we’d have no one in the conference,” Stewart told reporters.

Posted in Uncategorized

Doug Collins expected to step down as top Republican on Judiciary Committee

Rep. Doug Collins is not expected to stay on as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee as he seeks a Georgia Senate seat, according to several GOP lawmakers and aides, opening up a coveted top slot on the powerful panel.

Collins, however, won’t be stepping down right away.

Under Republican Conference rules, Collins — who announced Wednesday that he will challenge Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) in a special election this fall — is required to step down from the Judiciary panel because he’s running for higher office, unless he obtains a waiver.

Collins huddled with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Wednesday afternoon to discuss a time frame for turning over the ranking member spot on the Judiciary Committee. McCarthy indicated to POLITICO that Collins wouldn’t be forced out immediately, noting that “you have staff and everything” to think about. But he said the GOP Steering Committee will meet next week to discuss the issue further.

“I follow the committee and conference rules, and we’ll help out wherever we can help out and go from there,” Collins said. “But from our perspective, we’re focused on impeachment.”

Whenever Collins does give up his spot as ranking member, it is likely to set off a scramble in the House GOP — and could wind up putting a pair of top Trump allies on top of two key committees that serve as the front lines of the president’s defense in the House.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who is currently the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, is expected to make a play for the Judiciary spot, according to several lawmakers and aides. Jordan’s office declined to comment.

The Ohio Republican was vying to be ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee back in 2018. But Jordan, who had earned a reputation as a troublemaker during his years leading the conservative House Freedom Caucus, dropped his bid after he said GOP leadership made clear he wouldn’t succeed.

Jordan, however, has come a long way since Republicans entered the minority. Jordan has mended his relationship with McCarthy, whom he once challenged for minority leader, and as a top ally of President Donald Trump has emerged as a key team player in the impeachment battle. Not only was he temporarily brought over to the House Intelligence Committee for the public impeachment hearings, but Jordan was also tapped by Trump to serve as an impeachment surrogate during the Senate trial.

Other Republicans who some think could be in the mix for ranking Judiciary member include Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas, a former prosecutor who had a major role defending Trump in impeachment; Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, another impeachment surrogate and head of the conservative Republican Study Committee; and veteran Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio, who ran for the spot in 2018.

But lawmakers and aides think Jordan has the strongest chances — and if McCarthy throws his weight behind Jordan, it could earn him plaudits with conservative Freedom Caucus members further down the road, especially if McCarthy seeks the speakership someday.

If Jordan slides over to Judiciary, that would also open up a spot on the House Oversight Committee. Retiring Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), another top Trump ally who has played a major role behind the scenes during impeachment, could be a prime contender for that top spot.

In 2018, Meadows was vying to be ranking member on Oversight but bowed out of the race so he could let Jordan, one of his closest friends and allies in Congress, take the job instead.

Posted in Uncategorized