Video: Gaetz defies McCarthy, rips Liz Cheney in speech at Wyoming capitol

Watch some of this if you have time, just so that you fully understand that it’s *not* really an attack on Cheney for voting to impeach Trump. That’s part of it, of course — Trump Jr even calls in at 19:30 of the clip — but it’s actually a full-spectrum assault on Cheneyism, especially her interventionist foreign policy which was undertaken for “personal profit” according to Gaetz and which has left her with “blood on her hands.”

This isn’t a niche pro-Trump/anti-Trump flashpoint, in other words. This is the sort of speech you’d hear from a campaign opponent, yet delivered by a member of Cheney’s own party who represents a district on the other side of the country. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like it outside of a primary. Frankly, it’s harsh even by primary standards.

And he’s doing this, by the way, in direct contravention of his own caucus leader’s demands that House Republicans stop attacking each other. Immediately.

That’s the newsiest angle to it, I think. McCarthy laid down the law to his members in a conference call last night and Gaetz just blew him off this afternoon. The head of the House GOP looks like a joke today, especially with the hits on Marjorie Taylor Greene continuing to pile up with radio silence from McCarthy.

I guess he had more important things to do than worry about his caucus melting down:

McCarthy wants to be Speaker and job one in that effort is kneeling before Zod to repair the breach between them. Trump was reportedly furious after McCarthy said during his floor speech before the impeachment vote that the then-president should “accept his share of responsibility [for the Capitol riot], quell the brewing unrest and ensure President-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term.” Trump hasn’t accepted any responsibility at all, yet there McCarthy was at Mar-a-Lago this afternoon kissing the ring anyway. That’s quality cuckin’.

If you’re a House Republican today, watching Gaetz defy McCarthy this blatantly, what conclusions do you draw about your minority leader? Answer: The same conclusions you’ve already drawn about him.

“It’s hard to figure out where he’s coming from because one minute he says censure the president and he’s responsible for this and the next minute is backing off of that and changing his position,” said one GOP lawmaker, who believes Trump’s rhetoric ahead of the riot deserves to be rebuked.

This lawmaker criticized McCarthy, saying “everything is about his political ambition and not about being a principled leader who is going to lead us to the majority.”…

“I do think that [McCarthy is losing the trust of some in the conference] because there are a lot of us who consider ourselves majority makers — it’s easy to be brave in these R+23 seats,” one GOP lawmaker in a competitive district said.

Another “senior” Republican House member who spoke to The Hill for the piece agreed that McCarthy is losing the confidence of his caucus, believing that he’s being too cute in both defending Cheney and letting nonsense like the Gaetz speech happen. If the Freedom Caucus succeeds in ousting Cheney from leadership, what makes him think they won’t come for him too? Why would they leave McCarthy in charge when no one respects him if they can push him out and put Jim Jordan in as Speaker instead?

Read Marc Thiessen, who was Trump-friendly during the former president’s term, puzzling over the most basic optics of Gaetz flying off to attack Cheney. We just endured a riot at the Capitol egged on by Trump and a galaxy of sycophants in Congress amplifying his “stop the steal” message, and somehow the Republican who’s taking the harshest beating right now is … one of the very few who wanted no part in it. It’s morally perverse. Which is on-brand these days.