The rally on Saturday, which saw the president rail against Wyoming’s lone congresswoman and Trump critic Liz Cheney, saw the former president host a collection of right-wing speakers, both on stage and virtually. From hardcore Colorado representative Lauren Boebert to Ms Cheney’s challenger Harriet Hageman, most were received warmly.
However, the crowd was less receptive when an announcer introduced video appearances by Mr McCarthy, along with third-ranking House Republican Elise Stefanik – and Congressman Jim Jordan, who received a hearty cheer.
Mr McCarthy was recently embarrassed by the leak of audio recordings made shortly after 6 January 2021 on which he can be heard discussing how to convince Mr Trump to leave office and accept at least some responsibility for the deadly attack on the US Capitol.
On one of the crucial recordings in particular, he is discussing the matter with Ms Cheney, whom Mr Trump has made one of his top targets in the Republican primaries for this year’s midterm elections.
That Mr Jordan was met far more warmly may concern the House minority leader given that the Ohio congressman has been discussed as a potential speaker by many on the hardline pro-Trump right. Like Mr McCarthy, Mr Jordan was recently subpoenaed by the 6 January select committee on which Ms Cheney serves, and to which Mr McCarthy originally nominated him last year.
Mr Trump’s campaign against Ms Cheney effectively began when she voted to impeach him after the Capitol attack. Since then, she has not only intensified her public criticism of the ex-president but has also raised spectacular sums of money as she fights to keep her seat.
Her rival, Ms Hageman, has by contrast benefited from the support of Mr Trump, Mr McCarthy and many other top Republicans. She also has the support of the Wyoming Republican Party – whose chair, Frank Eathorne, attended Mr Trump’s 6 January White House rally and is reportedly a member of the far-right anti-government “militia” known as the Oath Keepers.