Liz Cheney, the third-highest-ranking Republican leader in the House, has attracted support from senior Republicans, but now faces an uphill battle after she broke with her party to impeach former president Donald Trump.
The powerful conservative joined a small cohort of Republicans who backed efforts to hold Trump accountable for inciting the attack on the US Capitol. In a statement, Cheney alleged that Trump had “summoned this mob, assembled this mob, and lit the flame of this attack.”
Cheney was joined by Republican colleagues John Katko (NY), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Fred Upton (MI), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA), Dan Newhouse (WA), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Peter Meijer (MI), Tom Rice (SC) and David Valadao (CA). Their explicit support contrasts Trump’s 2019 impeachment, in which no House Republicans voted in support, and only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney (UT), voted to convince the president.
Cheney’s support for impeachment poses a significant threat to her political standing, both in Washington and at home in Wyoming. After harsh censuring from Republicans in her home state which gave Trump his biggest victories both in 2016 and 2020, she now faces a pro-Trump primary challenge from Sen. Anthony Bouchard (WY-R).
There is also mounting pressure from Trump loyalists for House GOP to oust her as conference chair. Cheney has previously fallen into Trump’s crosshairs after opposing his efforts to invalidate the election results. At his rally in Washington DC before Congress’s vote to certify the election results, Trump told supporters: “The Liz Cheneys of the world. We have to get rid of them.”
Yet following her vote to impeach, the movement has gained traction in the House GOP. Trump’s allies in the House GOP are circulating a petition for a vote calling on Cheney to resign her leadership position as GOP conference chairwoman. Freshman Rep. Matt Rosendale (MT-R) is spearheading the resolution calling on Cheney to step down.
However, Republicans are divided over Cheney’s future in the Party. Senior Republicans, including Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-R), have expressed their appetite for harmony in the conference.
“Removing Liz as the Conference Chair when she did exactly what the Leader told all of us to do – vote her conscience – sends a bad message,” McCaul said in a statement. “And I’ve spoken with many members of our Conference who have expressed their support for Liz and her leadership. I have confidence she will remain in her position and she has my support.”
GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) and Republican Whip Steve Scalise (LA) have joined McCaul in supporting Cheney’s position. She has also received support from Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, who said her “strong voice and leadership will matter this next four years more than ever.” While impeachment is unlikely to pass the Senate, Cheney’s backing by established Republicans is suggestive of significant division within the Party.
McCarthy, however, has implied that Cheney will face questioning for her actions earlier this month. Cheney has so far rebuffed calls to step aside. She also was unapologetic about her impeachment stance, framing it as a vote of conscience. Cheney’s long-term future in the overwhelmingly pro-Trump House GOP remains precarious. However, given the lacking consensus among Republicans, Cheney’s fate will be a strong indication of the future of Trumpism for the splintered Republican Party.