Liz Cheney removed from position as House GOP conference chair over anti-Trump stance

House Republicans ousted Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership position Wednesday, a rare move that highlights the power that 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.  

Speaking moments after the vote to remove her from the No. 3 spot, Cheney (R-Wyo.) said she thinks it shows the GOP’s current state.

“I think that it is an indication of where the Republican Party is, and I think that the party is in a place that we’ve got to bring it back from, and we’ve got to get back to a position where we are a party that can fight for conservative principles, that can fight for substance. We cannot be dragged backward by the very dangerous lies of a former president,” the Wyoming Republican said.

She also said she would continue to buck the former president while supporting her Republican colleagues.

“The nation needs a strong Republican Party. The nation needs a party that is based upon fundamental principles of conservatism, and I am committed and dedicated to ensuring that that’s how this party goes forward, and I plan to lead the fight to do that,” she said.

“I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office,” Cheney said in response to a reporter’s question.

Rep. Liz Cheney served as the House Republican Conference chairwoman.
EPA

Trump, in a statement, praised the closed-door vote to oust her.

“Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being. I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party. She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country. She is a talking point for Democrats, whether that means the Border, the gas lines, inflation, or destroying our economy,” he said.

“She is a warmonger whose family stupidly pushed us into the never-ending Middle East Disaster, draining our wealth and depleting our Great Military, the worst decision in our Country’s history. I look forward to soon watching her as a Paid Contributor on CNN or MSDNC!”

Following the vote, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a staunch Trump defender, praised the conference’s decision.

Tensions began to reach a boiling point between Liz Cheney and her Republican colleagues during the House GOP retreat in Orlando late last month, where she stated that Trump (above) was no longer the head of the party.
AP

“You can’t have a conference chair who recites Democrat talking points,” he said. 

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) offered the motion to remove Cheney, which passed via voice vote — a move that leaders said was chosen to “show unity” instead of a secret-ballot recorded vote. 

Ahead of the vote, Cheney laid out her reasoning for not backing down.

“I have tremendous affection and admiration for many of you in this room. I know we all came to Washington to do important work for the nation. History has chosen every single one of us. And history has put us here together at this moment of challenge for our country,” she addressed the Republican conference.

“Our nation needs this Republican Party as a strong party based on truth so we can shape the future,” she said. “To do that, we must be true to our principles and to the Constitution. We cannot let the former president drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy. Down that path lies our destruction, and potentially the destruction of our country.

Rep. Jim Jordan talks to reporters as he arrives for a House Republican Conference meeting in the US Capitol Visitors Center on May 12, 2021.
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“If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy,” she told the room, according to a source familiar with her remarks. 

“But I promise you this: After today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism, to defending our republic, to making the GOP worthy again of being the party of Lincoln.”

Her comments were booed by a number of GOP lawmakers in the room. 

Sources in the room said Cheney exited down the center aisle through the crowd following her leadership ouster.

In a letter sent to his members Monday, Kevin McCarthy reaffirmed that the vote on Liz Cheney’s leadership position would take place Wednesday.
AP

While Cheney 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.

Cheney was taken down just minutes into the Wednesday morning conference, a sharp contrast from the February meeting, where both pro- and anti-Cheney members aired their grievances for hours before opting to keep her in her role.  

In a letter sent to his members 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 who 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.”

“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,” Liz Cheney said on the floor.
via Getty Images

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 her 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 about “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.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who previously nominated Liz 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.
AP

“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 frustration 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-NY), 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. 

Liz 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. 
Getty Images

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. 

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