Liz Cheney faces being ousted by Republican Party over Trump feud

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House Republican Conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney's role is under threat as senior GOP figures move to remove her - AP
House Republican Conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney's role is under threat as senior GOP figures move to remove her - AP

Donald Trump has lashed out at Liz Cheney, the third most senior House Republican, in a growing feud between the pair that has pushed the GOP to pick sides.

The former president on Wednesday called Liz Cheney, Republican Conference chair and Representative of Wyoming, a “warmonger” who had “no business” in the party leadership as a result of “unknowingly and foolishly” saying that there was no fraud in the 2020 election.

In a remarkable and unusual show of force by the party’s top leaders, Steve Scalise, the US House GOP whip, and Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader, stood behind Mr Trump and moved on Wednesday to expel Ms Cheney, 54, from her post for criticising the former president and his election lies.

Mr Scalise said he supported Representative Elise Stefanik, the New York Republican who has emerged as the leading contender to replace Ms Cheney as Conference chair.

Liz Cheney speaks with President Joe Biden as he arrives to address a joint session of Congress - AP
Liz Cheney speaks with President Joe Biden as he arrives to address a joint session of Congress - AP

Mr Trump, 74, later came out and endorsed Ms Stefanik, saying “we want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again movement.”

Mr McCarthy was caught on hot mic after an interview with Fox News on Tuesday saying: “I think she’s got real problems. I’ve had it with her. I’ve lost confidence.”

Without support from the top brass, Ms Cheney's political future in the House appears increasingly shaky. A vote on replacing her could come next week.

Ms Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was a once-popular, establishment figure in the GOP, but is now deemed unacceptable by fellow Republicans because she has publicly rejected Mr Trump’s false claims of a fraudulent election and refused to absolve him of his role in fuelling the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Ms Cheney, who was one of only 10 Republican House members to vote to impeach Mr Trump, said this week that those who spread the “Big Lie” about the election were turning their back on the rule of law and “poisoning our democratic system.”

Donald Trump has teased a 2024 run but has not yet confirmed any bid - AFP
Donald Trump has teased a 2024 run but has not yet confirmed any bid - AFP

Her fate is being seen as a bellwether for the direction of the Republican Party, which is working hard to wrest back control of the House from the Democrats in next year’s midterms elections.

It is also being seen as a test of whether the party’s future lies with its traditional conservative values - embodied by Ms Cheney - or by its loyalty to Mr Trump.

The former president, who has spent much of his time since leaving office at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, still has the support of the majority of Republican voters, according to the latest polls. He has teased the idea of a 2024 run but is yet to confirm a bid.

Mr McCarthy wants to keep Trump voters active in the party, believing he is their most likely shot at the White House.

Ms Cheney takes the opposite approach, arguing the GOP must rid itself of Mr Trump's brand of politics with its nationalist, authoritarian overtones if it hopes to return to its conservative roots and attract the voters who fled the party for President Joe Biden.

“The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” Ms Cheney wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece published on Wednesday afternoon.

“We Republicans need to stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.

“I am committed (...) no matter what the short-term political consequences might be. History is watching.”

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