by Kerry Picket, Senior Campaign Reporter| January 24, 2021
As another Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump looms on the horizon, House Republicans stepped up their pressure campaign against GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney to resign from her leadership post.
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz plans to rally with local Republicans in Cheyenne on Thursday to urge the Wyoming Republican congresswoman to step down as a result of her voting in favor of Trump’s second impeachment and accusing him of “betrayal” to the office of the presidency.
In a tweet promoting the event, Gaetz said, “I do not want her job. I unequivocally am not seeking a position in House Leadership. I also know Wyoming can do better.”
A Cheney spokesperson shot back at Gaetz, telling the Washington Examiner, “Rep. Gaetz can leave his beauty bag at home. In Wyoming, the men don’t wear make-up.”
Cheney, who is already facing a primary challenger, was excoriated by the Wyoming Republican Party, noting Trump was denied due process by the representative and that the state voted for the reelection of Trump by a margin of 70% to 30%.
Cheney took issue with Trump’s statements long before the most recent impeachment. Though she did not support the first impeachment effort, she defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, two witnesses in Trump’s first impeachment, after he criticized them on Twitter.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs, one of the lawmakers responsible for kicking off the petition circulating the conference demanding she resign, told Fox News on Saturday that Cheney’s statement related to Trump’s impeachment is more problematic than her vote for the measure.
“Well, it isn’t necessarily because she voted for impeachment. I didn’t like that. I didn’t support that, obviously. But it’s the way she did what she did. Besides that, she went out, and she is representing the entire conference, whether she says she is or isn’t. And she puts out a statement, saying that what this president did is maybe one of the most heinous things in the history of the U.S. presidency,” Biggs said.
He added, “Her words were used over and over again when the Democrats were making their speeches on the floor of the House. And they will be used again when the Senate opens up another bogus trial in the Senate. That is what the problem is.”
However, Cheney defended her statement during an interview with Fox News Channel’s Dana Perino.
“All of us have an obligation to the Constitution and an obligation to do what we believe is right, what our oath compels us to do, that is above politics, above partisanship. That is, I think, very important, and it’s incumbent on all of us. We came to different decisions within our conference about that issue,” she said.
“And as we look forward now, and as we look at what we’ve seen, the unity of President Biden’s inaugural address, but then contrasted with the executive orders that you watched him sign yesterday. They are very much indicative of the kinds of policies you knew he would be putting forward during the campaign,” Cheney said.
Several GOP lawmakers publicly gave support to Cheney, including House Freedom Caucus members Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado and Chip Roy of Texas. Other Republicans who stated they support keeping her in leadership are Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, Texas Rep. Michael Burgess, and Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Thursday he did not support ousting Cheney from her position, adding that the conference is expected to meet this week to discuss the matter and will eventually unify.
The California Republican previously criticized Trump for his response to and handling of the Jan. 6 capitol assault and later told reporters at his weekly presser last Thursday he did not think the president provoked the attack. McCarthy distanced himself from Cheney, though, during an appearance on Greta Van Susteren’s Full Court Press on Sunday.
“Look, everybody’s able to vote, their district or what they think is most important, but leadership is a little different job, especially when you’re the communications arm of it and the No. 3 person,” McCarthy said. “I support her, but I also have concerns. She took a position as a number three member in conference, she never told me ahead of time and one thing about leadership that we’re gonna work together, we should understand we know that this is going to become a difficulty. She can have a difference of opinion.”
He added, “But the one thing if we’re going to lead within the conference, we should work together on that as a whole conference because we’re representative of that conference. So I support her, but I do think she has a lot of questions she has to answer to the conference.”
Cheney expects House Republicans will come together despite the backlash she received from her impeachment vote and statement.
“We’re going to have these discussions inside the conference. We have differences of opinion about a whole range of issues, including about this one. I anticipate and am confident we will be united as a conference going forward,” she told Perino.