House Republicans have voted to oust Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership position on Wednesday, a rare move that highlights the leadership former President Donald Trump still holds in the party.
Cheney — daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and one of Trump’s most vocal critics — served as the House Republican Conference chairwoman, a position that entails leading the chamber’s messaging efforts.
While she overwhelmingly prevailed in a vote in February, shortly after her announcement that she would vote in favor of impeaching Trump for “inciting” the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the political climate shifted, with a growing number of lawmakers including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) backing the efforts to remove her from their team.
In a letter sent to his members on Monday, McCarthy reaffirmed that the vote on her leadership position would take place on Wednesday, adding that the party was not closed off to members that offer dissenting opinions.
“We are a big tent party,” he wrote. “We represent Americans of all backgrounds and continue to grow our movement by the day. And unlike the left, we embrace free thought and debate.”
Cheney critics argued that the Wyoming Republican’s rhetoric on Trump and split with McCarthy on key issues failed to represent the views of the majority of the conference, alleging it hindered her ability to message and unify the party as they look to take back the majority in 2022.
Cheney shot down allegations that she wasn’t effectively messaging or placing enough of an emphasis on pushing back against the Biden administration’s agenda, with sources close to Cheney insisting that the vote to oust her comes down to Trump and whether one can speak the truth.
In a defiant floor speech on the eve of her ouster, Cheney doubled down on her position, arguing that by not speaking out against Trump, Republicans are being complicit in sowing doubt in “democracy.”
“A former president, who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election. He has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence,” she said on the floor.
“Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president, they have heard only his words, but not the truth as he continues to undermine our democratic process, sowing seeds of doubt about whether democracy really works at all. I am a conservative Republican, and the most conservative of conservative principles is reverence for the rule of law.”
Cheney saw a quick rise in the House after first being elected to represent Wyoming in 2016, having been tapped to serve as conference chair in her second term.
Tensions began to reach a boiling point between Cheney and her Republican colleagues during the House GOP retreat in Orlando late last month, where she stated that Trump was no longer the head of the party, split with McCarthy on the scope of the Jan. 6 investigative commission, and said during a string of interviews that lawmakers who challenged the certification of the election should be disqualified from becoming the 2024 presidential nominee — while not ruling out a bid herself.
The Wyoming Republican’s support from centrists and fellow Trump critics who rallied behind her during the previous attempted ouster have dwindled in recent weeks, with members expressing frustrations over her focus on criticizing Trump.
“You can be honest, but not necessarily helpful at the same time, there’s a time and place. I mean how many times do you want to relitigate the same thing?” one lawmaker who was unsure whether they would vote to support Cheney this time around told The Post on Wednesday evening.
“And I think this is exactly the argument Nancy Pelosi wants us to have – it just plays into her hands. I’d rather… I think if we focus on Biden, what Pelosi has going on with the votes we are taking, what we are going to do if we win — so this is not what we need to be talking about.”
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who previously nominated Cheney for her leadership position, is expected to be elected to replace her in her leadership role as soon as the end of the week.
Stefanik — a moderate whose profile skyrocketed as one of Trump’s leading defenders during the first impeachment trial — has received high-profile endorsements from Trump, McCarthy and Scalise, but has seen some pushback from conservatives who cautioned the former Tuesday Group chair’s record is too moderate to be effective in the position.
Despite conservatives’ reservations, no challenger has emerged in the race.
One Stefanik critic told The Post that they don’t believe the Freedom Caucus “has the balls” to push another candidate.
The New York Republican — who has vowed to only serve one term in the position — is expected to meet with conservatives this week to make her pitch ahead of the vote to replace Cheney.