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Trump amplifies attacks on Cheney ahead of key vote

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE on Monday amplified his attacks on Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyCheney: 'It is disgusting and despicable' to see Gosar 'lie' about Jan. 6 GOP's Stefanik defends Trump DOJ secret subpoenas McCarthy pushes back on Biden criticism of GOP at NATO MORE (Wyo.), again calling the No. 3 House Republican a "warmonger" and endorsing her challenger, Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Canadian ambassador calls for close coordination in handling of US border Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision MORE (R-N.Y.), ahead of this week's race for a leadership spot.

"The House GOP has a massive opportunity to upgrade this week from warmonger Liz Cheney to gifted communicator Elise Stefanik," Trump said in a statement. "Elise has intelligence, an endorsement from American Patriot Brandon Judd and the National Border Patrol Council, she has an A+ from the NRA, and she loves our Veterans."

The battle to be House GOP conference chair has emerged as the latest proxy fight in the protracted GOP debate over the role Trump should play in the future of the Republican Party.

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Cheney, since Trump's election defeat, has emerged as the face of the internal opposition to the former president. She was one of just 10 House Republicans to impeach Trump for his part in inciting the Jan. 6 rampage at the Capitol, and she's continued to attack his false claims that the election was stolen.

GOP leaders had tolerated Cheney's impeachment vote, helping her survive an earlier challenge to her leadership spot in February. But if Cheney has made the calculation that the party is doomed with Trump, most of her colleagues have made the opposite determination: that they're doomed without him. And the top Republican leaders — Reps. Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse Democrats' campaign arm raises almost million in May Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision Environmental groups urge congressional leaders to leave climate provisions in infrastructure package MORE (Calif.) and Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHillicon Valley: Senate unanimously confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar | Scrutiny mounts on Microsoft's surveillance technology | Senators unveil bill to crack down on cyber criminals Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision FCC votes to advance proposed ban on Chinese telecom equipment MORE (La.) — have lost their patience with what has become a major distraction from the party's efforts to focus their message on the liberal policies of President BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE. Both have endorsed Stefanik in the contest.

"As conference chair, you have one of the most critical jobs as the messenger of going forward," McCarthy told Fox News over the weekend. "Are we talking about what the Democrats are doing on the border? Are we talking about all the missed jobs report that we just had? Are we building an economy?"

The vote to decide the conference chair is scheduled for Wednesday. With rank-and-file members joining Trump and other party leaders in criticizing Cheney, Stefanik is expected to prevail.

Cheney's fall from good graces has highlighted a central feature of GOP politics in the Trump era: Loyalty is paramount to virtually any other consideration, including political ideology.

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Indeed, Stefanik has amassed a much more liberal voting record than Cheney in their time on Capitol Hill, voting against Trump's 2017 tax overhaul and in favor of blocking him from exiting the Paris climate agreement, among other instances when she bucked her party.

Yet Stefanik has also been vocal in promoting Trump's lies surrounding his election defeat, and she voted in January to overturn Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania, one of the two states targeted by Republicans.

Those positions have aligned her more squarely with the rest of the House Republicans, who like their odds of flipping the chamber in 2022 but also believe they need Trump's support to do it.

Trump on Monday made clear that he sees Cheney as a liability in that cause.

"We need someone in Leadership who has experience flipping districts from Blue to Red as we approach the important 2022 midterms, and that’s Elise!" he said in his statement. "She knows how to win, which is what we need!"