New York Daily News
THE GOP’S UNCIVIL WAR
Honchos aim to ax Cheney from Power post for not drinking Don Kool-Aid
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney’s future appeared on shaky ground Wednesday as former President Donald Trump and other GOP brass threw their weight behind a hard-right bid to remove her from House leadership in retaliation for her rebuking Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.
Upstate New York Rep. Elise Stefanik — who has for months privately mulled a bid to replace Cheney as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference — got the green light to make her challenge official as
Trump offered his support in a statement.
“Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party leadership,” said Trump, who remains a singularly dominant force in the GOP despite being out of office. “Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my complete and total endorsement for GOP Conference Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!”
Stefanik, a Trump loyalist who represents a swath of upstate spanning from Albany to the Canadian border, returned the favor within minutes over Twitter.
“Thank you President Trump for your 100% support,” she tweeted. “We are unified and focused on firing Pelosi & winning in 2022!”
The conference chair is the third highest-ranking post for House Republicans. Holding it comes with great influence over the party’s messaging and policy priorities.
If Cheney doesn’t step aside voluntarily, House Republicans are expected to vote behind closed doors to strip her of the title and install Stefanik, GOP aides said.
Such a vote could come as early as next week, and a GOP aide familiar with the matter said the upstate congresswoman has gauged enough support
throughout the Republican caucus to prevail.
“This is a referendum on Liz Cheney,” the aide told the Daily News, “and Congresswoman Stefanik is ready to step up to plate.”
Hours before Trump placed his thumb on the scale, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, announced his support for Stefanik, praising her for being “strongly committed” to fighting Democrats’ “radical socialist agenda.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the chamber’s top Republican, did not immediately offer public comment, but a GOP aide briefed on the matter said he also backs Stefanik’s challenge and is working behind the scenes to make her Cheney’s replacement.
Cheney, a one-time GOP rising star and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has been sidelined since she joined nine other House Republicans in voting to impeach Trump for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
She has maintained a drumbeat of criticism of Trump ever since, sparking a war of words with him and blasting his insistence that the 2020 election was rigged for President Biden.
“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading the big lie, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system,” Cheney tweeted Monday.
Stefanik’s consolidation of support leaves Cheney with few paths to hold on to the conference chair position, as the Republican Party shifts further to the right and remains inextricably locked to the Trump brand.
But Cheney did not appear likely to step down voluntarily. Her spokesman Jeremy Adler said Wednesday that the Wyoming Republican will “have more to say in the coming days.”
Trump-boosting Republicans tried to remove Cheney from the No. 3 post in February but failed by a 145-to-61 vote, in part because McCarthy urged his members to support her.
Beyond Capitol Hill leadership headaches, Cheney is likely to face a difficult battle for reelection in next year’s midterms, with several Trump-loyal primary candidates already lining up to challenge her.
Biden, who triggered a fresh wave of right-wing criticism against Cheney when he exchanged a fist bump with her before his first congressional address last week, expressed disbelief Wednesday at the way Republicans are treating the Wyoming lawmaker.
“I don’t understand the Republicans,” Biden told reporters.