GOP divided over Liz Cheney’s future

Republicans are divided over the future of House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.) after her vote Wednesday to impeach President Trump.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) are circulating a petition that seeks to force Cheney out of her leadership role for her decision, which she called a “vote of conscience.”

They say her decision to announce her position a day before the vote gave Democrats talking points to go after Republicans.

Cheney didn’t take part in the floor debate, but she was mentioned repeatedly by Democratic speakers. Several Republicans noted the remarks by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who cited Cheney as he made the case for Trump’s impeachment.

“If you’re in leadership, you can vote your conscience, but you can’t get up there and make it harder for the members of your team by giving talking points to the opponents,” one member told The Hill. 

Cheney says she’s not stepping down.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she told reporters Wednesday. “This is a vote of conscience. It’s one where there are different views in our conference. But our nation is facing an unprecedented, since the civil war, a constitutional crisis.”

And she has plenty of defenders in the conference, even if only nine Republicans joined her in voting to impeach Trump.

“Look, everybody cast the votes that are best for their district and their conscience. If we begin to get in internal fights, if we’re going to have disagreements over the votes that are passed, that just gives Democrats wins because of our own self-inflicted internal wounds,” Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), told The Hill. 

“I mean we’re how many days into a new Congress? Twelve days? At this point in time, we’ve got to step up and band together to fight the Democrats who are going to run on what is happening here. And Liz has been a fighter since I’ve known her. I think when push comes to shove, Liz will have the support of the conference. She certainly has my support,” he added. 

Republicans hawkish on national security have also backed Cheney, who has frequently battled with Trump on defense issues.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) on Wednesday took to Twitter to praise Cheney as someone with “a hell of a lot more backbone than most, & is a principled leader with a fierce intellect.”

The former Navy SEAL added that she “will continue to be a much-needed leader in the conference, with my full support.”

First-term Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who hails from a military family and attended the military college The Citadel, also defended Cheney, as did Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who rejected calls for her to step down.

“Liz should be commended, not condemned, for standing up in defense of the Constitution and standing true to her beliefs,” Roy said in a statement Wednesday.

Cheney opposed the majority of her conference on challenges to the Electoral College results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. While a majority of the House GOP voted to negate those results, Cheney did not, putting her on the right with corporations and trade association now halting contributions to Republicans on the other side of the vote.

One defender said she could play a vital role in helping vulnerable moderates retain their seats. This source also said it would be a bad idea for the House GOP to oust the highest-ranking women in leadership. 

“Cheney now has important credibility with moderate Republicans, independents, and swing Democrats — the critical voters we’ll need to win if we’re going to take back the House. She’s going to be an asset campaigning for GOP members and candidates in bellwether districts that determine who is in the majority in 2023,” this source said.

Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) — two of Trump’s top defenders during his first impeachment trial — have both been suggested as possible Cheney replacements, sources said. One GOP official said Stefanik has been making calls to her colleagues on the matter. 

A spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), meanwhile, confirmed Thursday that he will not support House conservatives’ effort to oust Cheney from her position, even though he opposes Trump’s impeachment. During a conference call Monday before the vote, the California Republican called on members not to attack each other in the press, multiple sources confirmed to The Hill.  

But some argued that McCarthy could have come out more forcefully in defense of Cheney.

Others said they feel the tensions between Cheney and conservatives will tamp down, noting emotions have been high since the events that took place on Jan. 6.

“Cooler heads should prevail here, and I think they will,” one lawmaker said. 


Tags Capitol breach Chip Roy Dan Crenshaw Donald Trump Elise Stefanik Impeachment Kevin McCarthy Lee Zeldin Liz Cheney Rodney Davis Steny Hoyer
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