House GOP remove Liz Cheney from leadership post over frequent Trump criticism

May 12, 2021, 2:45 PM UTC

House Republicans removed Representative Liz Cheney from her leadership post Wednesday as her vocal and persistent criticism of former President Donald Trump widened the rift in the party over its future direction.

The 212-member House GOP conference brought the long-running drama to an end behind closed doors. The decision to replace her as House GOP conference chair boldly underscores the firm grip Trump continues exert on many Republican lawmakers, who view his support as essential to winning back the House in 2022.

The move was backed by Trump, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and his top lieutenant, Steve Scalise. Cheney remains in her seat as Wyoming’s lone representative in the House, and said she will continue to speak out against Trump’s false claims about 2020 election and the danger they pose for the party and the country.

“We must go forward based on truth,” Cheney told reporters after the vote. “The nation needs a party based on fundamental principles of conservatism.”

Cheney, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection by his supporters, also said she will “do everything I can to ensure” that Trump has no chance of getting elected to the presidency again.

Trump has kept up a steady drumbeat against Cheney, and in a statement released Wednesday morning before the vote, he said she “is bad for our country and bad for herself. Almost everyone in the Republican Party, including 90% of Wyoming, looks forward to her ouster—and that includes me!”

The conference held off on choosing a Cheney successor until at least later this week. Republicans plan to hold a candidate forum on Thursday, with a vote on Friday on Cheney’s replacement.

McCarthy and Scalise both have already publicly have already endorsed a potential successor, another Trump loyalist, Elise Stefanik of New York. So has Trump.

“We have broad support going into Friday,” Stefanik said after the meeting.

But some of the most conservative House Republicans, led by Representative Chip Roy of Texas, say they aren’t yet on board yet with picking Stefanik, who was elected as a moderate and has voted against the Republican more often than Cheney.

“I think we need to have a real contest and not a de facto coronation of a hand-picked successor,” said Representative Bob Good of Virginia. Some suggest the current conference vice chair, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, should at at least temporarily hold the post. Johnson declined to discuss that possibility Tuesday night.

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