Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, whose leadership role is under threat from her fellow Republicans, laid out a grim assessment for her party: The GOP has reached “a turning point,” and if it doesn’t break from former President Donald Trump‘s claims about the 2020 election, there will be long-lasting harm.
In an op-ed published Wednesday in The Washington Post, Cheney doubled down on her forceful condemnation of Trump’s unfounded statements that the election was stolen as well as the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol to stop the certification of President Joe Biden‘s victory. She has repeatedly urged her party to dismiss such comments and move on in the post-Trump era
But Cheney, who’s responsible for communicating the party’s messaging as the No. 3 Republican, is confronting her own grim reality as her own colleagues seek to oust her from her role as House GOP Conference chairwoman for the second time this year.
She easily beat back a challenge in February but the odds are now stacked against her three months later. Still, Cheney acknowledges the consequences and has signaled she won’t change her rhetoric even in the face of political pressure.
Her defiant op-ed comes hours after top Republicans, including Trump, are publicly endorsing and pushing Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York as Cheney’s replacement in leadership. And while no vote is formally set, the effort appears all but certain as more Republicans rally against Cheney. Stefanik, who’s become a steadfast ally of the former president, is the front-running – and only – candidate to possibly replace Cheney.
“The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” Cheney wrote on Wednesday. “While embracing or ignoring Trump’s statements might seem attractive to some for fundraising and political purposes, that approach will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country.”
Cheney, who voted to impeach Trump earlier this year over “incitement of insurrection,” said she supports the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the Jan. 6 attack and reiterated her calls for an independent and bipartisan commission that would solely look into the Capitol riots – something that has put her at odds with Republicans who also want any 9/11-style commission to look into “political violence” from last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.
In her op-ed, Cheney noted that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy previously said Trump “bears responsibility” for the deadly Jan. 6 incident but argued that the GOP leader has now “changed his story” as he defends the former president for his response to the attack.
While Cheney doesn’t mention the current effort underway to remove her, she indicates that she won’t be backing down even if it means losing her position.
“History is watching. Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process,” Cheney wrote. “I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.”