New York Daily News

THE GOP’S UNCIVIL WAR

Honchos aim to ax Cheney from Power post for not drinking Don Kool-Aid

- BY CHRIS SOMMERFELD­T AND DAVE GOLDINER

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.

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 ??  ?? Rep. Elise Stefanik (left and above with former President Donald Trump) is likely to replace Rep. Liz Cheney (right) in a powerful Republican position. Cheney voted to impeach Trump and has refused to join other Republican­s still clinging to widely discredite­d election conspiracy theories.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (left and above with former President Donald Trump) is likely to replace Rep. Liz Cheney (right) in a powerful Republican position. Cheney voted to impeach Trump and has refused to join other Republican­s still clinging to widely discredite­d election conspiracy theories.

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