Timeline: Liz Cheney’s falling out with House Republicans

Liz Cheney lost her position as the third-ranking Republican in the House Wednesday when the GOP voted to removethe Wyoming Republican from leadership.

It is a reversal of fortune for the congresswoman.

The daughter of former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney has been praised for her conservative values and commitment to the GOP. She was elected chair of the House Republican Conference in 2019 after winning a seat as Wyoming’s only representative in 2016.

But Republican sentiments about Cheney largely shifted after Jan. 6 — the day supporters of former President Donald Trump launched an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Capitol building.

In the aftermath, five people were left dead and Congress brought an article of impeachment against Trump for the second time in his presidency. Cheney was one of 10 Republicans in the House who voted to impeach the former president on a charge he incited the rioters. Trump was later acquitted by the Senate.

The decision to impeach put Cheney in the cross hairs of Trump’s ardent supporters in the House GOP, but the party leader had begun losing favor with some Republicans even before the events of Jan. 6.

Criticisms of Trump

Before she voted to impeach the former president, Cheney bumped heads with Trump over policy, though she voted in line with the former president nearly 93% of the time he was in office, according to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight. But her refusal to toe the Trump line led Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., to call for Cheney to step down last year.

“Liz Cheney doesn’t view her role as chair of the conference as one of serving the Republican members. She seems to think we’re there to serve her. That’s not leadership,” Gaetz said on his podcast in July. “That’s not what we need going into the election. That’s not what President Trump needs.”

Cheney indicated she would not step down, despite Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also publicly expressing their doubts about the congresswoman that same month. 

Cheney votes to impeach

The congresswoman released a statement in January explaining her decision to vote to impeach Trump.

“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” the statement read. “Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” 

A month later, in February, the House GOP voted on whether to remove Cheney from her position as conference chair, but she retained the seat with a 145-61 vote in her favor. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., backed her at the time.

Just days later, Republicans in Cheney’s home state voted to censure her over the impeachment vote. The motion called on Cheney to immediately resign and repay her 2020 campaign donations.

Cheney ‘fist bumps’ Biden 

Before his first address to a joint session of Congress last month, Democratic President Joe Biden greeted the sparse number of attendees with “fist bumps” instead of handshakes due to social distancing precautions. Cheney, one of a few dozen lawmakers to attend, exchanged a fist bump with the president on his way to the podium.

Some in the Republican Party condemned Cheney’s actions as showing solidarity with the leader of the opposing party.

Donald Trump Jr., son of the former president, later called Cheney a “‘Republican’ warmonger” in a tweet about the exchange between Cheney and the president.

Cheney also took to Twitter to explain that she responded civilly to a greeting from the president.

“I disagree strongly w/ @JoeBiden policies, but when the President reaches out to greet me in the chamber of the US House of Representatives, I will always respond in a civil, respectful & dignified way,” she wrote.

Other lawmakers had friendly exchanges during the speech, including Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

‘The Big Lie’

On May 3, Trump released a statement reading: “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!”

That same day, Cheney tweeted: “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.”

Two days later, Trump called Cheney a “warmongering fool” and endorsed New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik — a noted Trump ally — to replace Cheney as House GOP Conference chair. Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who is a step above Cheney in the House, also endorsed Stefanik.

McCarthy’s interview with Fox News 

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.  added pressure on the congresswoman during an interview on Fox News last week.

“I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out her job as conference chair, to carry out the message,” McCarthy said. “We all need to be working as one if we’re able to win the majority. Remember, majorities are not given. They are earned.”

Cheney pens op-ed aimed at the Republican Party 

Last week, the Washington Post posted an editorial written by Cheney that warned of a “turning point” for her party. The congresswoman lambasted members of the Republican Party for siding with Trump over the Constitution.

“While embracing or ignoring Trump’s statements might seem attractive to some for fundraising and political purposes, that approach will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country. Trump has never expressed remorse or regret for the attack of Jan. 6 and now suggests that our elections, and our legal and constitutional system, cannot be trusted to do the will of the people,” Cheney wrote.

“We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be,” she wrote.

In a letter to Republican House members Monday, McCarthy announced a second vote on removing Cheney from GOP leadership.

“Having heard from so many of you in recent days, it’s clear that we need to make a change. As such, you should anticipate a vote on recalling the Conference Chair this Wednesday,” McCarthy wrote.

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