Politics In booting Cheney, 'My Kevin' leads GOP back to Trump
Allies of GOP leader vow to oust Liz Cheney
Top allies of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are vowing to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), one of the harshest critics of former President Trump in either party, from her leadership post by the end of the month.They argue that the No. 3 Republican has repeatedly contradicted McCarthy and his team, undermining the party's message and its efforts to take back the House majority in next year's midterm elections."There is no wayThey argue that the No. 3 Republican has repeatedly contradicted McCarthy and his team, undermining the party's message and its efforts to take back the House majority in next year's midterm elections.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Kevin McCarthy is leading his party to an inflection point, preparing tofrom the No. 3 House leadership position and transform what's left of the party of Lincoln more decisively into the party of Trump.
The GOP leader argues that ousting Cheney has less to do withloss to than her inability to set aside personal convictions and do her job. As conference chair responsible for communicating a unified party message, Cheney has lost the confidence of rank-and-file lawmakers, he said this week.
Trump, GOP Leaders, and Even Liz Cheney Allies Say She Is a 'Dead Woman Walking'
As House Republicans prepare to purge current conference chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) from leadership, former President Donald Trump’s pals on Capitol Hill have been keeping him posted on the efforts to demote her—and the ex-president has been assured that Cheney will be punished by her colleagues as soon as next week. In recent days, Trump has been on the phone with several key allies in the House GOP conference, asking for updates on the Cheney situation, as well as on whether there will indeed be a vote to remove her from her leadership post, according to two sources with knowledge of the calls.
But in tossing aside Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president and as close as it gets to GOP royalty, and promising a “big tent” to win back power, McCarthy is hollowing out a cadre of lawmakers intent on governing while he is elevating the people and personalities most loyal to Donald Trump. In one stroke, he is amplifying theabout the election and seeking to mend his own tattered relationship with Trump, reasserting himself as Trump’s man in the House.
GOP Makes a Choice: Donald Trump Over Liz Cheney
GOP Makes a Choice: Donald Trump Over Liz CheneyWhen Liz Cheney voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump back in January, her fellow Republicans were able to set that aside as a vote of conscience. Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House and a mainstay of conservative politics for decades, told her colleagues that she’d never apologize for sticking with her convictions. Even her critics admired the swagger. The attempt to remove her from the post failed by a 61-to-145 margin. If that’s what Cheney believed to be true, so be it.
It’s a transformational moment for McCarthy, who resurrectedby attaching himself to Trump — who called him “My Kevin” — and is now on a glidepath to become House speaker, second in line to the presidency, if Republicans win control in next year's elections.
“There’s a complete changing of the guard here,” said Adam Brandon, president of the conservative FreedomWorks, a tea party group aligned with Trump’s rise.
“This started as one thing and morphed into something else: It’s about the future.”
The vote as soon as next week is expected to be decisive, showing the power of Trump's reach, particularly on McCarthy. The GOP leader initially criticized Trump's actions after the 2020 election, saying he “bears responsibility” for the deadly, the most serious domestic assault on the building in its history.
Liz Cheney is no defender of democracy: She and her party created a monster
Don't get suckered by the friendly fascist: Liz Cheney and the GOP have been building Trumpism for decades Donald Trump, Liz Cheney and Mitch McConnell Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images
Five people died after Trump encouraged loyalists to “fight like hell” as Congress was certifying his defeat to Biden. In a private call during the insurrection, McCarthy had urged Trump to call off the rioters, only to face the president's rebuke.
“The saddest day I have ever had” in Congress, McCarthy said that night, even as he joined 138 other House Republicans in voting to overturn Biden's win.
McCarthy stood by Cheney when she faced a February challenge for leading 10 House Republicans to. McCarthy argued that the House GOP needed to stay united against newly empowered Democrats, and she easily survived.
But in between the lines, McCarthy was also considering the optics of the moment, according to Republicans who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private vote. Booting Cheney so soon after the riot would be a bad look for the party, especially when House Republican leaders were also encouraging a unified vote of support for newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Trump ally whofrom Democrats over her conspiracy-laden social media rants.
Life after leadership: Liz Cheney plots her long game against Donald Trump
Liz Cheney entered this week knowing it would likely be her last as a member of the House Republican leadership team. © Joshua Roberts/Reuters Liz Cheney (R-WY) departs after a House Republican Caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 3, 2021. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts The Wyoming congresswoman fully expects to lose her position as the No. 3 Republican in the House when her conference votes on Wednesday, according to a source familiar with her thinking.
The GOP leader counseled Cheney to stay on message, but as she continued to warn the party off Trump's falsehoods, he groomed a newly transformed Trump acolyte,as her replacement. Like McCarthy, she is raising millions of dollars for the GOP as a Trump defender.
A last straw was Cheney’s press conference at the House GOP’s retreat in Florida last month when Cheney criticized Trump anew and broke with McCarthy to back a bipartisan commission fully focused on investigating the Capitol attack.
“The American people need to know how we got to Jan. 6 — people need to be held accountable,” she said.
In an, she warned colleagues, “History is watching."
McCarthy, who hasat Mar-a-Lago to win back the former president's support, had already changed his own tune, now saying he did not believe the former president had provoked the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Trump has made clear he wants Cheney out. During an event with the conservative Freedom Caucus at Mar-a-Lago ahead of the House GOP retreat, Trump told lawmakers that Cheney and other “RINOs,” including Senate leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, must go, according to two Republicans who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private remarks. RINO refers to those considered insufficiently loyal or conservative — Republicans in name only.
Liz Cheney live updates: House Republicans expected to vote on removing her from leadership
The vote is the result of weeks of drama among House Republicans, some who see Rep. Liz Cheney's criticism of Donald Trump as a distraction.Cheney, the third most-powerful House Republican, has angered some in the party for her repeated criticism of Trump and his claim the 2020 election was stolen from him. A vote behind closed doors and by secret ballot is scheduled for Wednesday morning.
In private calls with lawmakers, Trump had expressed similar displeasure with McCarthy, too, according to one of the Republicans.
“It's not like the ‘My Kevin’ days,” the Republican aide said.
, the California Republican has labored to win over the party’s conservatives by embracing Trump and giving the former president’s allies a seat at the table in House leadership.
McCarthy was among the first Republicans in Congress to endorse Trump’s presidential campaign and quickly became a close confidant and late-night telephone buddy, often fielding his calls in view of reporters in the Capitol.
In many ways, McCarthy had bridged the party’s path to the Trump era years earlier. He recruited the tea party class of Republicans who seized control of the House in the 2010 midterm elections, newcomers who shut down the government during hardball fiscal fights with then-President Barack Obama.
Underestimated by Democrats as a legislative lightweight, without a House Speaker Nancy Pelosi-style resume of committee work and policy chops to pass bills,, steadily rising to the top GOP leadership position.
But McCarthy has always had other would-be leaders on his heels. After the Freedom Caucus led by Mark Meadows forced former Speaker John Boehner into early retirement, McCarthy withdrew his own bid to become speaker in 2015. The gavel slipped away again after Speaker Paul Ryan retired and Republicans lost House control in 2018.
McCarthy has faced potential challenges from conservative Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the GOP whip in charge of counting votes, though the two are more friendly rivals now, as well as from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the de facto leader of the swelling conservative ranks and another Trump confidant.
Jordan said McCarthy has done what the others failed to do — bring the Freedom Caucus and conservatives into the fold. While Boehner punished what he sometimes called the "knuckleheads,” and Ryan simply ignored them, McCarthy showers the far right with face time and rank. He made Jordan the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, the perch he used to defend Trump from impeachment.
“He’s going to become the speaker if we take back the House," Jordan said an interview Thursday.
McCarthy, who declined to respond to an interview request, has said he wants House Republicans to focus their attention against Democrats, not on internal party rifts.
Without Cheney, he may have fewer dissenters to contend with.
“The frustrating thing about this is that they’re both right,” said Michael Steel, a former top Boehner aide.
“Cheney is correct that President Trump lost the presidential election ... and McCarthy is also right — the job of the Republican leader is to gain the majority and become speaker of the House.”
With Liz Cheney removed as House GOP chair, what's next? .
The first order of business will be to replace Cheney, and it looks like Rep. Elise Stefanik will step into that role.Wednesday's decision by House Republicans to remove the Wyoming congresswoman as chair of the House GOP Conference is only the beginning of a new chapter for a party that hopes to recapture Congress in 2022 after making key gains in November's elections.