Cheney slams GOP leadership for enabling ‘white nationalism’ following Buffalo shooting

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Monday slammed House Republican leadership, accusing the top lawmakers of enabling “white nationalism, white supremacy and anti-semitism” after a man who allegedly espoused a racist, far-right conspiracy theory fatally shot 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y.

Cheney, who was ousted from her perch in House Republican leadership in May of last year because of her refusal to back former President Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election, called on her GOP colleagues to “renounce and reject” white supremacist views and those who promote them.

“The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them,” Cheney wrote in a tweet.

The message comes just days after a gunman opened fire at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo on Saturday, killing 10 people and injuring three more. Eleven of the victims were Black. Police are investigating the attack as a hate crime.

The shooting has drawn a national spotlight on the “great replacement theory” after a manifesto written by the suspected shooter, 18-year-old Payton Gendron from Conklin, N.Y., who is white, made references to the racist conspiracy theory, which claims that an intentional effort is underway to replace white Americans with individuals of color through immigration.

Gendron’s writings also pointed to previous gunmen who carried out mass shootings driven by white supremacy beliefs, according to The New York Times, including Dylann Roof, who killed nine Black people at a South Carolina church in 2015.

A number of lawmakers have faced criticism in the past for rhetoric that was similar to those espoused in the great replacement theory, including Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who replaced Cheney as House GOP conference chair last year.

In September, Stefanik ran an advertisement claiming that “radical Democrats” were planning to “grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington,” according to The Washington Post, echoing parts of the baseless conspiracy theory

The Times Union of Albany, Stefanik’s hometown newspaper, criticized the advertisement in an editorial at the time as “despicable.”

Stefanik responded to the disapproval, writing in a Facebook post, “To equate opposition to illegal immigration with Nazism and white supremacy is a desperate attempt to stoke outrage & avoid covering Joe Biden’s border crisis.”

The ad sprung back into the spotlight after Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a frequent critic of pro-Trump Republicans, resurfaced an article on Saturday focused on the clash between the congresswoman and newspaper over the advertisements.

“Did you know: @EliseStefanik pushes white replacement theory?  The #3 in the house GOP. @Liz_Cheney got removed for demanding truth.  @GOPLeader should be asked about this,” Kinzinger wrote in a tweet.

In comments on Monday, Stefanik senior adviser Alex DeGrasse told The Hill that “Any implication or attempt to blame the heinous shooting in Buffalo on the Congresswoman is a new disgusting low for the Left, their Never Trump allies, and the sycophant stenographers in the media.”

“The shooting was an act of evil and the criminal should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” she added.

DeGrasse said Stefanik “has never advocated for any racist position or made a racist statement,” emphasizing the congresswoman’s stance on immigration.

“She opposes mass amnesty for illegal immigrants and Joe Biden’s wide open border. Like the vast majority of Americans, she opposes giving illegal immigrants the right to vote which NY Democrats support and have made legal in New York City,” DeGrasse said.

“She strongly supports legal immigration and is one of the national leaders credited with diversifying the Republican Party through candidate recruitment and messaging,” she added.

Stefanik herself told The Hill that the country is “heartbroken and saddened to hear the tragic news of the horrific loss of life in Buffalo, NY. 

“As a New Yorker, I am praying for the entire community and loved ones,” she said. “It is a tragic reminder as we begin National Police Week, that we must particularly thank and honor our law enforcement and first responders who continue to face skyrocketing violent crimes across the nation.”

Updated at 10:47 a.m.

Tags Adam Kinzinger Buffalo Buffalo shooting buffalo shooting Dylann Roof Elise Stefanik Elise Stefanik Elise Stefanik Liz Cheney Liz Cheney Liz Cheney mass shooting Tops Grocery Store Tops Grovery Store
See all Hill.TV See all Video