Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives ousted Congresswoman Liz Cheney Wednesday from her party leadership post over her criticism of former president Donald Trump for his claims that voter fraud cost him re-election last November.
The caucus, in a voice vote, removed the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney from her position as chair of the House Republican Conference, the third-highest position in House Republican leadership, responsible for communicating the party’s message to the general public.
Republicans are in a slight minority in the House compared to the majority Democrats, but one key Republican, Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana, said the vote against Cheney signaled a new push to win control in the 2022 congressional elections.
“We are unified behind a single mission of winning back the majority, and it was clear from the way that the vote occurred that 99% of our members are focused on that, so it’s time to move on,” said Banks, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee.
The 54-year-old Cheney, after losing her party leadership position, told reporters, “We cannot both embrace the big lie [that Trump was cheated out of another four-year term] and embrace the Constitution. I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office” in the White House.
Trump, who has never personally conceded his loss to President Joe Biden, continues to claim he was cheated out of re-election. He left Washington hours before Biden was inaugurated January 20 and has been living at his Atlantic oceanfront mansion in Florida.
After the vote against Cheney, Trump said, “Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being. She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our country.”
Cheney, the lone representative from the lightly populated western state of Wyoming, has frequently denounced Trump’s oft-repeated claims that he, and not Biden, was the legitimate winner of the November election, despite his campaign losing five dozen court challenges to overturn the final results in key states that he lost.
Cheney first drew fire within the party when she, along with nine other House Republicans, voted for Trump’s impeachment for his role in inciting the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, when hundreds of his supporters stormed the building to keep lawmakers from certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory. Five people died in the chaos that day and more than 400 people are facing criminal charges.
In a speech on the House floor Tuesday night, Cheney described Trump’s continuing efforts to delegitimize the election results as “a threat America has never seen before.”
“A former president who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence.”
Defending her staunch conservative record, Cheney said, “the most conservative of conservative principles is reverence for the rule of law.” She said she “will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president's crusade to undermine our democracy.”
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York, who has enthusiastically endorsed Trump’s claims, likely will be elected to replace Cheney as party conference chair. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy announced his support for Stefanik during a recent interview on U.S. cable network Fox News.
Stefanik has compiled a more moderate voting record than Cheney, but unlike Cheney, has embraced Trump’s continuing role in Republican politics as he weighs whether to run again for the presidency in 2024.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democratic majority in the chamber, said, “Congresswoman Liz Cheney is a leader of great courage, patriotism and integrity. Today, House Republicans declared that those values are unwelcome in the Republican party."