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Republicans vote to oust Trump critic Liz Cheney from leadership role

In a statement this morning after the vote, Trump said “Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being”.

Republican representative Liz Cheney
Republican representative Liz Cheney
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE voted to oust anti-Trump conservative Liz Cheney from her leadership role, confirming that the party is casting its lot with the former US president.

18 months before crucial midterms and three years before the next presidential race, the Republican Party punished one of its own for refusing to embrace Donald Trump’s false claim that Democrats stole the 2020 election.

Cheney, a Wyoming conservative and the daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, was removed from her role as the number three House Republican in a closed-door vote by the party’s conference.

After the vote Cheney told reporters: “I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the oval office.”

“We must go forward based on truth. We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the Constitution,” she added.

Republicans argue it’s about unity, and that Cheney hammering on about Trump and what she calls his “dangerous and anti-democratic cult of personality” has done nothing to bring a fractured party together following a contentious election that left them in the political hinterland.

Yesterday evening she delivered a defiant speech on the House floor, warning her colleagues of the potential “unraveling of our democracy” as a former president continues to mislead millions of Americans and sow doubt about election integrity.

“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” Cheney told a nearly empty chamber.

In a statement issued this morning after the vote, Trump said “Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being”.

He added: “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.”

What comes next?

Trump, top House Republican Kevin McCarthy and number two Steve Scalise have all endorsed a young moderate-turned-Trumpist, Elise Stefanik, as Cheney’s replacement.

Stefanik does not yet have serious competition for the post, and the endorsements make her the clear frontrunner.

But a vote for a new conference chair is not yet set, as some Republicans worry that Stefanik – while a fierce Trump defender – is insufficiently conservative.

Regardless of Cheney’s replacement, “it’s clear that we need to make a change,” McCarthy told members on Monday.

“Each day spent relitigating the past is one day less we have to seize the future.”

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While Cheney and a few allies, such as House Republican Adam Kinzinger, warn against clinging to the former president, many in the GOP including Senator Lindsey Graham believe their party cannot move forward without Trumpism – whether or not Trump himself remains a force.

In a letter yesterday to fellow Republicans, congressman Chip Roy said Cheney will be ousted because she spent more time “unhelpfully engaging in personal attacks and finger-wagging towards president Trump” than building a party platform to take on Democrats.

“She forfeited her ability to be our spokesperson by pulling us into distraction,” the Texas lawmaker said.

With Republican divisions on awkward display, President Joe Biden will court bipartisanship today when he hosts his first White House meeting with the four congressional leaders: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Republicans McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell.

The huddle may serve as a reminder that in the midst of a purge of a congressional leader, Washington’s gears continue churning.

“Hopefully… they can talk about areas of agreement and things like infrastructure,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

Cheney nevertheless sits at the center of a crisis for a party unable to quit its defeated former president or reject his false claim of election fraud.

© – AFP 2021 

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