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The Republican drive to oust Trump critic U.S. Representative Liz Cheney as a party leader for criticizing former President Donald Trump gained steam on Wednesday, as top Republicans – and Trump himself - backed one of his staunchest allies as her replacement.
No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise endorsed Congresswoman Elise Stefanik for Cheney's job as chair of the party's conference – the third-highest Republican position.
The move appeared to make certain a vote on Cheney’s future, as early as next Wednesday.
Cheney has repeatedly refuted Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen, called on Republicans to be a "party of truth" and warned that Trump's falsehoods about the election are "poisoning our democratic system."
Democratic President Joe Biden said the Republican Party is having an identity crisis.
"It seems as though the Republican Party is trying to identify what it stands for and they're in the midst of a significant sort of mini-revolution.”
In a statement released Wednesday, Trump said "Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair."
The congresswoman responded in a tweet: "Thank you President Trump for your 100% support for House GOP Conference Chair. We are unified and focused on FIRING PELOSI & WINNING in 2022!"
A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said Trump spoke with Stefanik by phone on Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial page urged Republicans not to oust Cheney, writing, "Purging Liz Cheney for honesty would diminish the party."
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, held off an initial challenge to her leadership position earlier this year after joining nine other House Republicans in impeaching Trump.
Her office did not respond to requests for comment.
But she penned an editorial in the Washington Post on Wednesday in which she showed no signs of backing down, writing “Trump has never expressed remorse or regret for the attack of January 6th and now suggests that our elections, and our legal and constitutional system, cannot be trusted to do the will of the people. This is immensely harmful."