The backlash has begun in the Republican Party as it prepares to remove Liz Cheney from its leadership on Wednesday.
Grumbling has started against GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and how he’s handled the situation.
And, on Tuesday, one Republican lawmaker spoke out against Rep. Elise Stefanik, the front runner to replace Cheney, as not being conservative enough to be the GOP Conference chair.
The infighting comes as Republicans struggle to find their path forward after four years of Donald Trump‘s presidency left a legacy of division. The debate continues as to whether to embrace the former president or denounce him – with Trump’s allies winning the race to define the GOP.
That battle will accumulate on Wednesday, when the referendum on Cheney’s position as the Number Three in GOP leadership becomes a loyalty test to Trump.
Her ouster is all but a foregone conclusion but the first cracked appeared on Tuesday against Trump’s endorsed candidate to replace Cheney – Elise Stefanik.
The backlash has begun in the Republican Party as it prepares to remove Liz Cheney from its leadership on Wednesday
Republican Rep. Chris Roy of Texas argued electing Stefanik into leadership would undermine GOP attempts to win control of the House in the 2024 midterm election.
‘We must avoid putting in charge Republicans who campaign as Republicans but then vote for and advance the Democrats’ agenda once sworn in – that is, that we do not make the same mistakes we did in 2017,’ Roy wrote in a letter sent to all GOP lawmakers that was obtained by Dailymail.com.
‘Therefore, with all due respect to my friend, Elise Stefanik, let us contemplate the message Republican leadership is about to send by rushing to coronate a spokesperson whose voting record embodies much of what led to the 2018 ass-kicking we received by Democrats,’ he noted.
Roy opposed conservative efforts to overturn the election results and defended Cheney after she was criticized for being one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. But he now concedes her time has come and she will exit leadership when House Republicans gather Wednesday morning in the basement of the Capitol.
Stefanik is campaigning hard to replace Cheney and has the endorsement of McCarthy, Trump, and power conservative Rep. Jim Jordan. But other conservatives – including some in the powerful House Freedom Caucus – worry she is not far enough to the right for them.
Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, holds a far more conservative voting record than Stefanik, but angered Republicans when she repeatedly and publicly challenged Trump’s false claim the presidential election was rigged. Stefanik, in contrast, was one of Trump’s most public defenders.
And Stefanik brushed off concerns about her conservative credentials.
‘We have a great deal of support from the Freedom Caucus and others,’ the New York Republican told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
The vote for Cheney’s replacement is expected to happen later this week.
A Republican lawmaker said Rep. Elise Stefanik, the front-runner to replace Liz Cheney in party leadership, isn’t conservative enough for the job
Rep. Cheney was criticized for repeatedly speaking out against Donald Trump’s false claim he won the 2020 presidential election
McCarthy, meanwhile, is facing anonymous grumbling for his handling of the matter.
‘Kevin McCarthy has pissed off enough members of his own conference that he’s going to have to go back to his former days as a whip to try to figure out where his votes are’ to become speaker, an unidentified GOP lawmaker told Politico’s Playbook on Tuesday. ‘I’d be worried if I was him.’
He remains the frontrunner to become House speaker should Republicans win back control of the chamber in next year’s election but there is chatter the drama in the GOP – not just Cheney and Trump but over conservative firebrands Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene – have left him in a tough spot.
McCarthy will address Wednesday morning’s meeting – as he addresses every GOP meeting – with a look to the future.
‘Leader McCarthy speaks at every conference meeting and what the conference’s priorities should be at every meeting,’ a McCarthy spokesperson told DailyMail.com.
But many rank-and-file Republicans are falling in line with McCarthy and have embraced his call to unit and focus on next year’s election so the party can win back the House.
Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, who strongly defended Cheney when she faced a recall in February, will now vote against her.
‘House Democrats under Speaker Pelosi have been ruthless in advancing their radical progressive agenda, and Rep. Cheney can no longer unify the House Republican conference in opposition to that agenda. We need to take back the House in 2022 and permanently retire Pelosi,’ he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Other Republicans brushed off the squabbling and predicted the GOP would come together.
Republican Whip Rep. Steve Scalise told CBS News on Tuesday that, after the vote: ‘You’re going to see a very united front.’
Cheney, a member of a prominent GOP family and the highest ranking woman in Republican leadership, survived that February attempt in 145-61 in a secret-ballot vote. But Wednesday is not expected to go so well. Punchbowl DC, an insidery newsletter, predicted she would only garner 20 votes of support.
As Republicans focus on winning back control of the House, they are increasingly turning to Trump, who still has a strong and vocal base of MAGA supporters who are expected to be active in next year’s primary and general election.
A few Republicans have defended Cheney, including Senator Mitt Romney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, but most are looking ahead to 2022.
Cheney became an outspoken critic of Trump in the wake of the January 6th MAGA riot on Capitol Hill that left five people dead. She voted to impeach him for his role in inciting the rioters – Trump was acquitted by the Senate – but has made it clear she intends to speak out against his influence on the party.
‘The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,’ she wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post last Wednesday.
And she called on other Republicans to join her in speaking out against Trump’s false claim he won the presidential election.
‘History is watching. Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be,’ she wrote.
Grumbling has begun among Republicans about the way House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has handled the situation with Cheney and other drama in the party
Kevin McCarthy has embraced Donald Trump as Republicans seek to win back control of the House of Representatives
Trump repeatedly attacked Cheney repeatedly after she voted to impeach for his role in the Capitol riot and, last week, blasted her as a ‘warmonger.’
She has given as good as she has gotten.
Last Monday, Cheney she slammed Trump for ‘poisoning our democratic system’ as he continued to falsely spout that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Trump’s office sent out a statement saying: ‘The fraudulent presidential election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as the big lie!’
Cheney snapped back.
‘The 2020 presidential election was not stolen,’ she tweeted. ‘Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.’
The 2020 contest showed no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Several recounts in states confirmed Joe Biden’s win. Multiple courts threw out Trump’s legal challenges.
Several Republicans said Trump should have done more to rein in his supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6th.
McCarthy even called him out on the House floor the day, saying Trump bears responsibility for the riot.
Trump erupted in fury. McCarthy flew down to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s residence in Palm Beach, to make peace.
He called Trump a force in the GOP.
‘He could change the whole course of history,’ McCarthy told The New York Times. ‘This is the tightest tightrope anyone has to walk.’