Trump hits back at retiring Republican critic who called him 'a cancer'

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE slammed Rep. Anthony GonzalezAnthony GonzalezThe 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress Colin Powell's example to the GOP — and to America MORE (R-Ohio) on Friday after Gonzalez announced that he would not seek reelection next year.

Gonzalez was one of Trump's staunchest GOP critics in the House and called the ex-president a "cancer" on the country as he announced he was leaving Congress. He had also voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Trump typically goes after GOP critics, in part to send the message that others should not speak out against him. The former president has sought to keep a tight grip on his party amid speculation that he could run for the White House again in 2024.

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“RINO Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, who has poorly represented his district in the Great State of Ohio, has decided to quit after enduring a tremendous loss of popularity, of which he had little, since his ill-informed and otherwise very stupid impeachment vote against the sitting President of the United States, me,” Trump said, using an acronym for “Republican in name only.”

Gonzalez was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. On Thursday night, he announced that he would forgo a reelection bid, choosing to bow out of contention rather than face a Trump-backed primary challenge next year.

Trump, who has vowed to oppose any Republican who backed the impeachment proceedings, has already endorsed former White House aide Max Miller for Gonzalez’s seat. The former president reiterated his support for Miller on Friday. 

“This is no loss for Ohio or our Country and, most importantly, we have a great candidate who was substantially leading Gonzalez in the polls, Max Miller, who I have given my Complete and Total Endorsement,” Trump said. “Max is a tremendous person who will represent Ohio well.”

Gonzalez, who has represented Ohio’s 16th Congressional District since 2019, had been largely supportive of Trump and his policies during the former president’s time in the White House. But he broke with Trump and much of his caucus over their efforts to challenge the 2020 presidential election results. 

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After the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Gonzalez joined a handful of his GOP colleagues in backing impeachment proceedings against Trump, gaining him a spot on the former president’s list of enemies.

In an interview with The New York Times on Thursday, Gonzalez called Trump “a cancer for the country” and said that, while he believed he could overcome a primary challenge, he did not want to continue to serve in a Republican caucus still dominated by Trump loyalists. 

“Politically the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now,” Gonzalez told the Times. “You can fight your butt off and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy? And the answer is, probably not.”