Gov. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., on Tuesday warned fellow Republicans not to unite behind former President Donald Trump because he "is dividing our party."
During an interview with CNN, Hutchinson was talking about House Republicans attempting to oust Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., from her leadership position when he mentioned Trump, The Hill reported.
"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."
Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the protesters on Jan. 6, when the U.S. Capitol was attacked.
Trump has said he will support challengers to Cheney in the 2022 Republican primary.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Monday he had scheduled a vote for Wednesday to remove Cheney from her post as chair of the House GOP Conference.
Hutchinson said Cheney, 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," said Hutchinson, apparently alluding to McCarthy's visit to Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla.
Hutchinson, barred from seeking a third term as governor in 2022, is one of the Republican governors who broke with Trump after the assault on the Capitol.
He criticized Trump for "unhelpful" attacks on Republican leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and said he would not support the former president if he ran again in 2024.
"He should not define our future. We have got to define it for ourself," Hutchinson said in February.
In late January, Hutchinson warned the GOP against threatening primary challenges for every politician who runs up against the party with a contrary political point of view.
"We got to make sure that we don't divide our party," Hutchinson said on ABC News' "This Week." "I'm more troubled by someone going in and opposing Liz Cheney because she took a different position than many others in the party. That’s the kind of thing that tears our party apart, we need to not start primarying everyone because we don't like how they handle things post-election."
Cheney has continued to condemn Trump for claiming the 2020 presidential election was "stolen" from him.
In an interview on "Fox & Friends" last week, McCarthy said that some House members were concerned about Cheney's ability to carry the message of the party.
McCarthy wrote House GOP colleagues on Monday, suggesting that dissenting views are fine so long as they don’t undermine the party’s broader goals.
"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. 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., to replace Cheney as conference chair.
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