Politics Life after leadership: Liz Cheney plots her long game against Donald Trump
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.
entered this week knowing it would likely be her last as a member of the House Republican leadership team.
The Wyoming congresswoman fully expects to lose her position as the No. 3 Republican in the House whenon Wednesday, according to a source familiar with her thinking.
But Cheney is also planning to take advantage of her expected removal as a way to furtherover the GOP and continue hammering the message that got her in trouble in the first place: that Trump's lies about the 2020 election are damaging for her party and the country.
Liz Cheney's future in Republican leadership decided by voice vote in closed-door meeting
Under long-standing conference rules, votes were cast in secret by the members who physically show up to the morning meeting in the Capitol. No proxy voting is allowed. Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning. A simple majority of those voting decided Cheney's fate. That's what happened in February when some Republicans sought to strip Cheney of the leadership post following the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump that she supported. The vote was 145-61 (with one abstention) by voice vote to keep Cheney on as conference chair.
Four months after the, Cheney has told friends she "does not believe Trump will just fade away" and that she's planning to wage a protracted political war -- through public statements and in the media -- against the former President. The way Cheney sees it, according to sources, Wednesday's vote is a chance to put her GOP colleagues on the record: They are either voting for truth and the rule of law or they are voting to continue down the path of lies and insurrection.
"I think it's a mistake to think that she's going to fade," said one person who knows Cheney well.
That will almost certainly continue to bring Cheney into conflict with Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, especially if investigations on Capitol Hill and from the Justice Department. And the prevailing House GOP message of unity over all will continue to heighten the tension between Cheney and the rest of the conference.
Colorado Springs shooting, Liz Cheney, Medina Spirit's drug test: 5 things to know Monday
A shooting in Colorado Springs leaves six dead, scandal involving Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit and more news to start your Monday.Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
"It's not about right or wrong, it's about the focus of our conference, and focusing on pushing back on the agenda that's being pushed by the Biden administration," said Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican, on Tuesday.
But Cheney is also facing her own electoral challenge. In order to be fully effective in her anti-Trump campaign she'll need to survive a competitive Republican primary for her at-large district in Wyoming next year. With Trump and his allies, Cheney's political future is at stake as she makes her next moves.
The question for Cheney is how large and prominent her platform will be once she is no longer a member of the GOP leadership team. The damage done to her brand within the House Republican conference has been significant since her colleagues last voted 145-61 in favor of keeping her in leadership.
Before, Cheney had reached out to a wide array of members to ensure their support. But GOP lawmakers tell CNN she's done little to maintain some of those tenuous relations ever since.
Rep. Liz Cheney criticizes 'disgraceful' GOP attempts to 'whitewash' Capitol attack
Rep. Liz Cheney talked with "This Week" Co-Anchor Jonathan Karl shortly after the GOP voted to replace her. "The notion that this was somehow a tourist event is disgraceful and despicable," Cheney said in an interview with ABC's "This Week" Co-Anchor Jonathan Karl. "I won't be part of whitewashing what happened on Jan. 6. Nobody should be a part of it and people ought to be held accountable.
A person with knowledge of the Republican delegation told CNN that Wednesday's vote will likely be "lopsided" against Cheney. House members who stood by her in February, such as Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, are turning against her now.
"Rep. Cheney can no longer unify the House Republican conference," Gallagher said in a statement firstby the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Tuesday. The Journal also reported that four of the five Republican members of the Wisconsin delegation said they would vote against Cheney on Wednesday.
One GOP member who is sympathetic to Cheney says she has "not worked on repairing relationships since February," saying freshmen members in particular are not happy with her in recent weeks. "She's not open to much feedback or discussion," the member said.
But what Cheney has lost in influence among House Republicans she could gain as the recognizable leader of the GOP's anti-Trump wing. Her national name recognition has improved over the past few months, and she has raised a personal record in quarterly campaign dollars ---- for her reelection.
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.
"She's going to remain a compelling story because she's incredibly articulate and very smart, and because Trump's not going to let these issues go," said Eric Edelman, a former ambassador and Pentagon official who also worked as a national security aide for Cheney's father, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Cheneylast week that reads as a preview of the fight she's seeking to have within the GOP.
"Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work -- confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this," Cheney wrote in the Post. "The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution."
She's also likely to make a political case that Trump remains a drag on the party. One recent poll conducted for the National Republican Congressional Committee found the former President was underwater in some of the House GOP's key battleground districts they'll need to win in 2022, according to a person familiar with the poll results. But the details about Trump's poor position were excluded from a report on that poll presented to a group of GOP members at a March leadership retreat in Florida, according to that person.
Cheney, stripped of leadership position, vows to keep Trump from returning to presidency
House Republicans stripped Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., of a leadership position Wednesday, rejecting her insistence that the GOP tell the truth about the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Cheney said the vote signaled an existential fight for the soul of the GOP and the preservation of democracy. The House GOP’s 212 members met behind closed doors and voted by secret ballot, despite calls by Cheney backers such as Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., that they make the vote public. © Provided by Yahoo! News US Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, speaks to the media at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 12, 2021.
Trump's unfavorable polling was firstby The Washington Post.
Allies few and far between
As Cheney takes on Trump, she has only a few allies among elected Republican officials. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, for instance, has criticized House Republicans for their plans to throw Cheney out of leadership.
"I think we're better trying to expand the number of people who want to vote for Republicans as opposed to shrink that number. And I think she's a person of integrity, who follows her conscience and speaks the truth. And I think it will do nothing but drive some people away from our party," Romney said Monday. "It certainly doesn't add more people, because the people who are supporters of the President are not going anywhere else."
, who has started a super PAC to support Republican candidates who push back on the party's embrace of Trump, said on Twitter this week that he had warned the conference during a phone call before January 6 that McCarthy's rhetoric suggesting the 2020 election was stolen would "lead to violence."
"Kevin dismissively responded with 'ok Adam, operator next question.' And we got violence," Kinzinger tweeted. (McCarthy's office had no comment to CNN about Kinzinger's tweet.)
And a handful of Republican governors have been resistant to Trump's influence on the party. Asa Hutchinson, the term-limited governor of Arkansas and a former House member, said the move against Cheney by her GOP colleagues is not "healthy" and has said he won't support a hypothetical 2024 White House bid by Trump.
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.
Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, who did not vote for Trump in 2020 and called for his removal from office after January 6, has also expressed his desire for the party to move on from Trump.
"I think we're going to have a real battle for the soul of the Republican Party for the next couple of years," Hogan. "Are we going to be a party that can't win national elections again?"
Still, Cheney has few friends in her fight in the halls of Congress, even if Republicans on the Senate side have expressed more unease with how the House is proceeding.
"Cancel culture is cancel culture, no matter how you look at it," said Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa who's a member of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's leadership team, to reporters on Monday. "I support President Trump and his policies, so I have a slightly different view on that -- but I still think we shouldn't be trying to cancel voices."
But a number of Senate Republicans downplayed the squabble as simply an inside-the-Beltway dispute that most voters are ignoring. McConnell last week declined to speak on Cheney's behalf, despite being close to the Wyoming Republican.
And Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a strong Trump ally, said on Monday that there is room for members of the Republican Party to be anti-Trump, but there are limits.
"You're just not gonna be a leader of the party if you're anti-Trump," Graham told CNN.
Liz Cheney Posted Most Successful Fundraising Quarter Ever in Beginning of 2021 .
On Wednesday, House Republicans voted to oust Cheney from her leadership role as chair of the House Republican Conference, while challengers are gearing up to run against her in the 2022 primary. But unseating Cheney could prove difficult as she continues to rake in large amounts of campaign money amid reports that the list of candidates seeking to run against her grows.For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.Over a year remains before Wyoming's deadline to file for the August 2022 Republican primary, but already at least six Republicans plan to run against her.