Is someone who speaks out against their own political party’s leadership being brave, or being disloyal? Should that person be commended or asked to step down? These are some of the questions circulating around Republican Liz Cheney, who was removed from her leadership position in Congress last week for continuing to speak out against former president Donald Trump. Here, Election Central takes a closer look.
Rep. Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. She has served as Wyoming Congressional representative since 2017. Cheney is a consistently conservative voter, whose congressional voting consistently supported Trump’s agenda. But Cheney was one of only ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Until Wednesday May 12, 2021, Cheney served as Chair of the House Republican conference. This made her the third-highest-ranked House Republican. She was responsible for the messaging of the House GOP. (The House Republican conference is the party caucus and is responsible for organizing meetings and messaging.)
For months, Rep. Cheney has spoken out against former president Trump for claiming that he won the 2020 presidential election. Cheney said in a recent speech that enabling Trump was dangerous and would lead to the downfall of the Republican Party. Rep. Cheney’s speech was booed by her fellow Republicans, who later voted her out by a voice vote behind closed doors.
According to House Republican leadership, their decision to remove Cheney from her role was not because of her anti-Trump message itself, but because her words were continuing to fracture party unity.
On Friday, May 14, 2021, the Republican conference voted to replace Cheney with Elise Stefanik of New York, who does not vote as conservatively as Cheney but is one of Trump’s strong defenders. In January 2021, Stefanik was one of the Republicans who objected to certifying the 2020 presidential election. She also supported some of Trump’s lawsuits to overturn states’ election results. Stefanik also recently said that she supports a ballot audit in Arizona to dispute Biden’s narrow victory there. Her goal is to help unify the Republican Party to win back a Congressional majority in the 2022 midterm elections.
So what’s next for Cheney? She remains in Congress representing Wyoming. She has been meeting with other Republicans outside of the conference who share her views, working on planning her own path forward.