Republicans voted during an internal party meeting on Wednesday morning to remove Cheney from her position as House Republican Conference chair, the third-highest rank among Republicans in the House of Representatives. They removed her via voice vote soon after the meeting commenced, meaning no member went on the record.
The decision won’t silence Cheney, she told reporters after the meeting.
“We must go forward based on truth,” Cheney said. “We cannot both embrace the big lie and the Constitution.”
“I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office,” Cheney added.
Ahead of the meeting, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had made it clear that Cheney should get the boot, saying in a letter to members that “our leadership team cannot afford to be distracted from the important work that we were elected to do.”
The distraction? The plain truth. In recent weeks, Cheney has been increasingly vocal about the validity of the 2020 election and Donald Trump inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen,” Cheney tweeted last week in response to the disgraced ex-president. “Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”
Cheney was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the January attack on Congress. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” she said before her vote.
The majority of Republicans, including McCarthy, not only voted against impeachment, they also voted to throw out the 2020 presidential election results, even after a violent mob trashed the Capitol. McCarthy initially blamed Trump for the attack but then rushed to Florida to get back into the disgraced ex-president’s good graces.
Republicans plan to replace Cheney with Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), who has parroted Trump’s election lies, including during a podcast interview last week.
Trump has made it clear that his grudge against Cheney is rooted in her election statements, although he often bashes her as a “warmonger” and bad politician as well. Cheney voted in line with Trump’s positions 93% of the time; Stefanik was previously critical of the former president, although she’s evolved into one of his top defenders.
Trump gloated about Cheney’s ouster soon after the vote.
“Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being. I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party,” he said in a statement. “She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country.”
On Tuesday evening, Cheney delivered her final speech as conference chair on the House floor. Speaking after a series of pro-Trump Republicans lamented “cancel culture,” Cheney laid into Trump, saying he presents a grave threat to American democracy.
“A former president, who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election, has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him,” Cheney said. “He risks inciting further violence.”
In a futile attempt to make her fellow Republicans uncomfortable, Cheney said Trump’s lies disadvantage America in a coming cold war against China.
“Attacks against our democratic process and the rule of law empower our adversaries and feed communist propaganda that American democracy is a failure,” she said. “We must speak the truth. Our election was not stolen, and America has not failed.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), one of Cheney’s few GOP public defenders, told reporters after the meeting that he thought Cheney had “a lot” of supporters, but that leaders said they would hold a voice vote to show “unity.”
“There’s a lot of people that are proud of her for what she has done and a lot of people who feel threatened by her, and that’s their decision,” he said. “Going forward, I think she is going to be a great leader for this country and this party.”
Shortly after their vote, some Republicans told HuffPost they didn’t oust Cheney over her truth-telling — really!
“I felt she was in part responsible for the high spending in the first Trump budget,” Rep. Glenn Grothman (Wis.) said.
Several GOP members disagreed with Cheney on “what level of military adventurism is acceptable,” said Rep. David Schweikert (Ariz.). “Things sort of pile up over time.”
Others wouldn’t say whether the election was stolen.
“I’m going to stay focused on the future, not the past, at this point,” Rep. Vern Buchanan (Fla.) said.
Rep. Mike Kelly (Pa.) suggested it’s just a “version” of the truth that Cheney lost her position for statements about the ex-president losing the election and inciting a riot. When HuffPost reiterated that Trump didn’t win, Kelly said, “Is that right?”
Elise Foley contributed reporting.