House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday he’s “lost confidence” in Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) during a moment of candor caught on a hot mic, a tape reviewed by Axios shows.

What he’s saying: “I think she’s got real problems,” McCarthy told Steve Doocy off-air ahead of a live “Fox and Friends” interview. “I’ve had it with … I’ve had it with her. You know, I’ve lost confidence. … Well, someone just has to bring a motion, but I assume that will probably take place.”

  • The comments, made amid seeming cross-talk with Doocy, outlined how the House conference chair could be removed by a vote from the chamber’s Republican members.
  • McCarthy’s comments contrasted from the nearly 6-minute, on-air interview where he told Doocy he’d heard members concerned about Cheney’s ability to carry out her job as a party leader.
  • “This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on Jan. 6,” Cheney spokesperson Jeremy Adler said in response to McCarthy’s aired Fox interview. “Liz will not do that. That is the issue.”

Why it matters: To date, McCarthy has left some of his more pointed criticisms to his lieutenants, but this firmly puts him on the record — even if it was accidental.

  • Top Republicans told Axios’ Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene last week that Cheney could be removed within a month.

Editor’s note: Updated with link to audio of McCarthy’s comments.