Cheney faces ousting as Republicans reject her criticism of Trump

Party stands by former US president as he continues false claims about election he lost

Liz Cheney: warns  Republican Party’s future is at stake if the party continues to give credence to Donald Trump’s baseless claims. Photograph: Amr Alfiky/New York Times

Liz Cheney: warns Republican Party’s future is at stake if the party continues to give credence to Donald Trump’s baseless claims. Photograph: Amr Alfiky/New York Times

 

Republicans may move to oust Liz Cheney as leader of the House Republican Conference as early as Wednesday, the latest sign that the party is seeking to underline its allegiance to former president Donald Trump.

Ms Cheney, who has strongly criticised the former president’s false claims that November’s presidential election was stolen, is expected to face a vote of confidence which is likely to lead to her removal as head of the conference – the main organisational body for the GOP in the chamber.

The 54-year-old Republican’s fate appeared to be sealed over the weekend when House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said he would support congresswoman Elise Stefanik for the position.

“We want to be united in looking, moving forward,” Mr McCarthy, the de facto leader of the party, told Fox News.

Ms Stefanik, a fourth-term congresswoman from New York, has announced her candidacy for the role and has picked up several important endorsements, including from Mr Trump. Describing Ms Cheney as a “warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party leadership”, the former president endorsed Ms Stefanik last week. “She has my complete and total endorsement for GOP conference chair,” he said in a statement. “Elise is a tough and smart communicator!”

First impeachment

Ms Stefanik replied on Twitter: “Thank you President Trump for your 100% support for House GOP Conference Chair. We are unified and focused on FIRING PELOSI & WINNING in 2022!”

The 36-year-old congresswoman was elected in 2016, initially on a relatively moderate platform. But throughout her time in Washington she has moved further to the right, becoming a strong defender of Mr Trump during his first impeachment.

Ms Cheney, the daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, has represented the state of Wyoming in Congress since 2016. She was one of a handful of Republicans to vote to impeach Mr Trump over his role in inciting the January 6th attack on the US Capitol. While she faced a vote of no confidence in February, she easily survived the private ballot. However, her continuing criticisms of the former president have placed renewed pressure on her, and she is unlikely to win a second vote.

Writing in the Washington Post last week, Ms Cheney warned that the future of the Republican Party was at stake if the party continued to give credence to Mr Trump’s baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election. “Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work – confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this.”

‘Truth and fidelity’

“The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” she added.

The likely move by the Republican Party to oust Ms Cheney is being seen as an indication of the strong hold Mr Trump continues to exert over his party, six months after he lost the presidential election.

The former president has continued to make unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud. This week he issued a statement alleging “massive” election fraud in the state of Michigan.  

“All Republicans must UNIFY and not let this happen,” he said. “The Fake News media refuses to cover the greatest Election Fraud in the history of our Country. They have lost all credibility, but ultimately, they will have no choice!”

Republican senator Mitt Romney, who himself was booed at a Utah Republican party meeting earlier this month, warned about the impact of removing Ms Cheney.

“Expelling Liz Cheney from leadership won’t gain the GOP one additional voter, but it will cost us quite a few,” the former presidential nominee tweeted.