US Congresswoman Liz Cheney has vowed to do whatever she can to stop Donald Trump from becoming president again after losing her leadership position in the Republican Party today for speaking out against him.
Until this morning, Ms Cheney was chair of the Republican conference, which made her the party’s third-highest ranking member in the House of Representatives.
But her refusal to stop publicly contradicting Mr Trump’s lies about the 2020 election prompted her colleagues to move against her.
At a conference meeting today, the Republican House members voted to remove Ms Cheney from her leadership role. She is expected to be replaced by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a vocal supporter of Mr Trump, later this week.
Ms Cheney delivered brief remarks to her colleagues before the vote, though the result was never in doubt. She remained defiant.
“We cannot let the former president drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy. Down that path lies our destruction, and potentially the destruction of our country,” she said.
“If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person. You have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy.
“I promise you this: after today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism, to defending our republic, to making the party worth again of being the party of (Abraham) Lincoln.”
An earlier attempt to oust Ms Cheney in February failed by a margin of 145-61. We don’t have a tally this time, as there was merely a voice vote instead of a roll-call vote.
Shortly after the meeting, Ms Stefanik wrote to her colleagues requesting their support to replace Ms Cheney as conference chair. She has already been endorsed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and, more significantly, Mr Trump.
The former president repeatedly urged House Republicans to ditch Ms Cheney in the week leading up to her removal, issuing public denunciations of her on his blog.
He took another swing at her after this morning’s vote.
“Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being,” Mr Trump said.
“I watched her yesterday and realised how bad she is for the Republican Party. She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our country.
“She is a talking point for Democrats, whether that means the border, the gas lines, inflation, or destroying our economy. She is a warmonger whose family stupidly pushed us into the never-ending Middle Easter disaster, draining our wealth and depleting our great military, the worst decision in our country’s history.
“I look forward to soon watching her as a paid contributor on CNN or MSDNC!”
Ms Cheney’s father, former vice president Dick Cheney, was of course a central figure in starting both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars during the Bush administration.
The DNC is the Democratic National Committee. MSNBC is a news network. Mr Trump likes to combine them to imply MSNBC is an arm of the DNC.
Mr Trump’s more vocal supporters in the Republican Party were also happy with Ms Cheney’s removal. Here, for example, is 25-year-old Congressman Madison Cawthorn.
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Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye Liz Cheney
— Rep. Madison Cawthorn (@RepCawthorn) May 12, 2021
Meanwhile, the former conference chair addressed reporters in the halls of Congress.
“I am absolutely committed, as I said just now to my colleagues, that we must go forward based on truth,” Ms Cheney said.
“We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the Constitution.
“Going forward, the nation needs a strong Republican Party. The nation needs a party that is based upon fundamental principles of conservatism. And I am committed and dedicated to ensuring that is how this party goes forward, and I plan to lead the fight to do that.”
A reporter asked Ms Cheney how concerned she was about the prospect of Mr Trump becoming president again.
“I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office,” she replied.
“We have seen the danger that he continues to provoke with his language. We have seen his lack of commitment and dedication to the Constitution. And I think it’s very important that we make sure whoever we elect is someone who will be faithful to the Constitution.”
Asked whether she felt “betrayed” by the vote to oust her, Ms Cheney said no.
“I think it’s an indication of where the Republican Party is. And I think the party is in a place that we have to bring it back from,” she said.
“We’ve got to get back to a position where we are a party that can fight for conservative principles, that can fight for substance. We cannot be dragged backward by the very dangerous lies of a former president.”
Six months after his defeat to President Joe Biden, and almost four months after leaving office, Mr Trump is still insisting the election was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud.
His claims were tested extensively in court after the election. Judges at federal and state level, including several appointed by Mr Trump, found they were baseless. Mr Trump’s own Justice Department also found no evidence to support his conspiracy theories.
On January 6, thousands of Mr Trump’s supporters attacked the US Capitol Building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Mr Biden’s victory, convinced it was fraudulent.
Mr Trump was then impeached for “incitement of insurrection” against the government – Ms Cheney was one of just 10 Republicans to vote against him – though he was later acquitted by the Senate. A 57-43 majority of senators voted to convict Mr Trump, well short of the 67 votes needed to find him guilty.
Ms Cheney continued to contradict Mr Trump’s debunked claims about the election in the following months. Speaking on the floor of the House last night, she explained why.
“Today we face a threat America has never seen before. A former president who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans it was stolen from him,” she said.
“He risks inciting further violence. Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president. They have heard only his words, but not the truth, as he continues to undermine our democratic process.
“The election is over. That is the rule of law. That is our constitutional process. Those who refuse to accept the rulings of our courts are at war with the Constitution.
“This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. I will not participate in that.
“I will not sit back in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”
Originally published as Trump gloats after vanquishing nemesis