WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Wednesday voted to depose Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming from her leadership position as conference chairwoman, a repudiation of her criticism of former President Donald Trump.
It took the fractured GOP Conference less than 20 minutes to remove Cheney from her role as the No. 3 House Republican, including time spent on prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.
House Republicans made the decision to remove her by voice vote rather than a full tally, which means it is not yet clear the exact degree of support for her ouster. Cheney was steadfast exiting the closed meeting where her colleagues voted her out of leadership, maintaining her stance on Trump’s lies.
“I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office,” she told reporters. She said Wednesday’s vote is a clear indication of the path that the GOP is on as a party, tethered to Trump, and sent a warning to Republicans: “We cannot be dragged backward by the very dangerous lies of a former president.”
In a floor speech Tuesday night, Cheney warned that Trump is a dangerous element that the party should leave behind.
“Today we face 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 efforts to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him,” Cheney said. “He risks inciting further violence.” She said Trump was on a “crusade to undermine our democracy.”
The decision to remove the staunch Wyoming conservative and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney signals a tremendous break from the Republican Party of old; the party now is beholden to Trump.
Cheney was booed in the meeting when she criticized Trump, but also received a standing ovation at the end of the meeting. Multiple members said she was applauded in recognition and appreciation of her service, not support for her position.
As Republicans emerged from the closed-door meeting, some were reluctant to say how they voted. Those who did attempted to divert from the party fracas to criticize the Biden administration.
Cheney lost key support from her House GOP leadership colleagues in a cascade of opposition emerging in recent weeks. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy put out a letter to his GOP colleagues last week saying that her ouster was required to bridge “internal divisions” that could derail the party’s efforts to reclaim the House majority in the 2022 midterm elections. “Each day spent relitigating the past is one day less we have to seize the future,” McCarthy wrote. “If we are to succeed in stopping the radical Democrat agenda from destroying our country, these internal conflicts need to be resolved so as to not detract from the efforts on our collective team.”