Congresswoman Liz Cheney has come under fire by her own party for comments she made criticizing Trump after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol building.
The post-Trump era of the Republican Party is in flux, with Congresswoman Liz Cheney representing a side of the GOP that’s ready to move on from the former president. But Cheney, Wyoming’s sole member of the House of Representatives, has come under fire by her own party for comments she made criticizing Trump after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol building.
The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney made a name for herself by serving at the State Department as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East.
A congresswoman since 2016, Cheney was elected as Chair of the House Republican Conference in 2018, making her the third-highest ranking Republican in the United States House of Representatives after just two years there.
In 2020, despite urging from fellow members of the GOP like then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Cheney announced she would not be running for the Senate seat vacated by retiring Senator Mike Enzi. After climbing the leadership ladder in the House so quickly, many political analysts and GOP leaders believed this meant Cheney was looking to become the first Republican woman to become Speaker of the House. Notably, her father also spent his congressional career in the House before leaving to join former President George H.W. Bush’s administration.
Throughout Trump’s presidency, Cheney had no issue reprimanding and criticizing his policies. In an October 2019 press release, Cheney issued a seething response to Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from the Turkey-Syrian border.
“President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria is having sickening and predictable consequences,” she stated. “The U.S. is abandoning our ally the Kurds, who fought ISIS on the ground and helped protect the U.S. homeland.”
Cheney also contradicted Trump on his handling of the coronavirus, defending Director of Infectious Disease Dr. Anthony Fauci after Trump and other members of the GOP criticized Fauci for his testimony in front of Congress.
“Dr. Fauci is one of the finest public servants we have ever had,” she tweeted last April. “He is not a partisan. His only interest is saving lives. We need his expertise and his judgment to defeat this virus. All Americans should be thanking him. Every day.”
Cheney in the spotlight
On January 6, the attacks on Capitol Hill by Trump supporters that rocked the country also horrified Cheney. That evening, she quickly and definitively placed the blame on the former president’s shoulders, a connection most Republicans refused to make.
“We just had a violent mob assault the Capitol in an attempt to prevent those from carrying out our Constitutional duty,” she tweeted. “There is no question that the President formed the mob, the President incited the mob, the President addressed the mob. He lit the flame.”
On January 13, Cheney was one of 10 Republicans in the House to vote to impeach Trump after the attacks on Capitol Hill. It was a move one of her constituents described as a “middle finger” to Wyoming Republicans and one that made Cheney the vocal embodiment of those few elected Republicans who have expressed their desire to move on from Trump.
In an interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace, Cheney doubled-down on her vote. “Somebody who has provoked an attack on the United States Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral votes, which resulted in five people dying, who refused to stand up immediately when he was asked and stop the violence, that is a person who does not have a role as a leader of our party going forward.”
These strong words and actions have angered many in the GOP, with some contrasting Cheney and Representative Majorie Taylor Greene, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump and an open believer of the QAnon conspiracy theory, as two sides of the GOP’s “civil war.”
In her home state, the Wyoming Republican Party voted to censure Cheney as a punishment for her vote to impeach Trump. Only eight of the 74 Republicans voted against the censure, a clear sign that loyalties within the state remain with the former president.
Despite being censured in her state, which serves as merely a symbolic statement of disapproval, Cheney refused to leave the House. However, she has also been challenged by other GOP members of the House.
In a vote held by House Republicans via secret ballot, 145 members voted to keep her in power with 61 voting to strip her of her leadership positions.
Signs of a splintering Republican Party still remain, though Cheney hopes to distance the GOP from the political antics favored by Trump and Greene.
“We are the party of Lincoln,” she told Wallace, responding to a question involving the misstatements spread by Greene. “We are not the party of QAnon or anti-Semitism or Holocaust-deniers, or white supremacy or conspiracy theories. That’s not who we are.”
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