Speaking with The Late Show host Stephen Colbert, McCain said Cheney has “handled herself beautifully” amid Republicans removing her from the No. 3 leadership position of conference chair last week.
“It’s odd, now our party seems to be rewarding bad behavior and then trashing those who tell the truth and are honest about what’s actually going on,” McCain said. “We have lost our way. Our party is in such disarray right now.”
Cheney, who has refused to go along with others in her party in perpetuating the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen, has called for a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s involvement in the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. This did not sit well with a majority of Republicans in Congress, as they still largely take their cues from the former commander-in-chief.
“I feel deep in my heart that John [McCain] would be very disappointed in what’s going on and the lack of courage on the part of so many of our senators and congressmen to stand up to what this is,” McCain continued. “What we’re seeing is the demise of the party of Abraham Lincoln right now.”
In place of Cheney, the GOP selected ardent Trump backer Rep. Elise Stefanik, one of 147 House Republicans who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Yet McCain, who endorsed Biden, is still holding out hope for the GOP.
“I believe we can pull ourselves back, but this is going to be a long road,” she explained.
“We have been compromised in so many different ways, and we’re no longer practicing what we used to be, and that was the party of inclusion, the party of decency and debate that was not personal, and we’re so far astray right now, it’s awful.”