Gaetz says Cheney should be removed or step down as GOP leader

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzPhotos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - CDC equates Delta to chickenpox in contagiousness Gaetz, Greene and Gohmert turned away from jail to visit Jan. 6 defendants MORE (R-Fla.) is calling on House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyGosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (Wyo.) to step down or be removed from her leadership role following a heated confrontation during a House GOP conference meeting on Tuesday morning. 

Gaetz accused Cheney, the third-ranking House GOP member, of working behind the scenes and in public against President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE, making the charges on Twitter and on his podcast.

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"I do not believe that Liz Cheney is the right person to lead the House Republican Conference into this upcoming November election,” Gaetz said in a podcast exclusively obtained by The Hill in advance of its release. 

Gaetz, along with Reps. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanKinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy Jordan acknowledges talking to Trump on Jan. 6 AP Fact Check rates GOP claim Pelosi blocked National Guard on Jan. 6 'false' MORE (R-Ohio), Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieBiden asks Pentagon to examine 'how and when' to mandate COVID-19 vaccine for troops House at war over Jan. 6 inquiry, mask mandate Tempers flare as some in GOP ignore new House mask mandate MORE (R-Ky.), Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyHouse GOP stages mask mandate protest House clears .1 billion Capitol security bill, sending to Biden House at war over Jan. 6 inquiry, mask mandate MORE (R-Texas), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertPhotos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - CDC equates Delta to chickenpox in contagiousness Gaetz, Greene and Gohmert turned away from jail to visit Jan. 6 defendants MORE (R-Texas) got into an argument with Cheney during the conference meeting.

“Jim Jordan, my colleague, my mentor, my friend made the case strongly that Liz Cheney is hurting President Trump," Gaetz said on his podcast.

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The lawmakers criticized Cheney for her decision to initially back Massie’s primary opponent, Todd McMurty. Cheney later retracted her endorsement and rescinded her donations to McMurty after racist tweets made by the challenger to Massie emerged. 

The lawmakers also took aim at Cheney for breaking with Trump on Afghanistan policy, and for supporting Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci: US unlikely to return to lockdowns Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate Fauci: Amount of virus in breakthrough delta cases 'almost identical' to unvaccinated MORE, a leading infectious disease expert and a member of the White House task force on the coronavirus. 

Conservatives have argued that Fauci is impeding the nation's economic recovery.

“Jim pointed out Liz's opposition to the President's Afghanistan policy, the President's Germany policy, the president's response to Coronavirus, her tweets attacking him and frankly, her effort to try to oust Republican Thomas Massie, Liz Cheney backed a racist against Thomas Massie, Liz Cheney donated the maximum amount of money Money against Thomas Massie and his political campaign,” Gaetz said on his podcast.

Cheney during the conference meeting defended herself, telling Jordan she “looks forward to the lecture about being a team player when we have the majority back,” according to multiple sources in the room. 

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Jordan was frequently seen as a thorn in the side of past GOP leaders when their party had the House majority.

Cheney also told her colleagues she believes they should focus on a solution to the coronavirus pandemic instead of launching personal attacks on one another. 

Gaetz argued it is Cheney who is out of step with her conference. 

“She was ill-prepared to deal with, I think, the reality of the political environment where we're in trying to reelect the president as a Republican conference. And I think she's out of step with a majority of the Trump supporters and Republicans in the country,” he said. 

“I do suspect that Liz still has a substantial amount of support within the Republican Conference because We got a lot of people in the Republican Conference who aren't the biggest supporters of the president," Gaetz added. 

One senior GOP official dismissed accusations that Cheey isn’t supportive enough of the president, noting she was a vocal opponent of impeachment and has held multiple fundraisers for the Trump campaign.

The source also noted Cheney has voted with President Trump 96.5 percent of the time to Gaetz’s 85 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight’s ratings. 

Gaetz and Cheney have long had a contentious working relationship, sparring over their stances over military presence in the Middle East.