(WASHINGTON) — House Republicans voted Wednesday to remove Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney from her House GOP leadership position following her criticism of former President Donald Trump and his continued attacks on the 2020 election.
Cheney, who has branded herself as an “unapologetic conservative,” speaking on the House floor Tuesday night, delivered a searing indictment of House GOP leaders seeking to expel her from their ranks after she voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Here is how the day is unfolding:
May 12, 10:06 am
Trump releases scathing statements attacking Cheney
Former President Donald Trump, in a series of statements Wednesday as the vote was happening, attacked Cheney with personal insults — following through on his promise since leaving office to inflict revenge on his enemies.
“Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being,” Trump said in a statement following her ouster. “She is a warmonger whose family stupidly pushed us into the never-ending Middle East Disaster, draining our wealth and depleting our Great Military, the worst decision in our Country’s history. I look forward to soon watching her as a Paid Contributor on CNN or MSDNC!”
In an earlier statement ahead of the vote, Trump encouraged her removal and said Cheney has “absolutely no personality or heart.”
Despite Trump’s attacks, Cheney is not backing down from her criticisms, vowing after the vote to “do everything I can to ensure the former president never gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”
May 12, 9:59 am
Cheney ousted via voice vote, not secret ballot as expected
House Republicans removed Cheney from the No. 3 leadership post via a voice vote.
While a secret ballot was expected, and was the method used in February when Cheney faced another challenge to her post and prevailed 145-61, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy rejected calls for one.
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who is in the party’s minority for publicly supporting Cheney, said following the meeting that McCarthy said he opted for a voice vote instead to “show unity.”
A voice vote is taken by evaluating the relative strength and volume of “aye” and “no” calls. Since the vote was conducted behind closed doors in a conference-wide meeting, it’s unlikely many Republicans will let their positions be known in public.
May 12, 9:45 am
Stefanik sends note to colleagues announcing her bid for No. 3 spot
Following the vote to oust Cheney, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik formally announced her bid for House Republican Conference Chair with a letter to her GOP colleagues asking for their vote.
She blamed the news media for dividing the Republican Party and vowed to regain the majority and “fire Speaker Pelosi once and for all.”
The note comes amid growing concern among the conservative wing of the Republican Party that Stefanik, with a more moderate voting record than Cheney, is not conservative enough for the job.
May 12, 9:37 am
After ouster, Cheney vows to keep Trump from Oval Office
Following the vote, Cheney told reporters that she did not feel betrayed by the vote and that she will keep on fighting to prevent former President Donald Trump from ever making his way back into the Oval Office.
“We cannot embrace both the big lie and the Constitution,” she said.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger spoke immediately after Cheney and said there was little speaking among members during the vote to remove Cheney.
He said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said this morning that the vote was about “unity.”
Other Republicans leaving the meeting said the conference vote to replace Cheney will likely take place Friday.
May 12, 9:30 am
Cheney ousted from leadership position
A majority of House Republicans, in a voice vote, removed Cheney from her leadership position at a closed door meeting.
Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York is the front-runner to replace her, having the support of the former president and House GOP leadership.
May 12, 9:25 am
Cheney gives final speech to colleagues, warns against Trump
Inside the closed-door meeting to oust Cheney from Republican leadership — a monumental moment for the party — a source familiar with her comments in the room said Cheney warned in her final speech to her colleagues not to let former President Donald Trump make the Republican Party “complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy.”
“I am going to take a moment of personal privilege and then we will have the prayer and pledge,” she opened.
“I have tremendous affection and admiration for many of you in this room. I know we all came to Washington to do important work for the nation. History has chosen every single one of us. And history has put us here together at this moment of challenge for our country,” she said. “Our nation needs this Republican Party as a strong party based on truth so we can shape the future.”
“To do that, we must be true to our principles and to the Constitution. We cannot let the former president drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy. Down that path lies our destruction, and potentially the destruction of our country,” she said.
“If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy,” she continued. “But I promise you this, after today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism, to defending our republic, to making the GOP worthy again of being the party of Lincoln.”
She then led the group in prayer.
“Dear God, fill us with a love of freedom and a reverence for all your gifts. Help us to understand the gravity of this moment. Help us to remember that democratic systems can fray and suddenly unravel. When they do, they are gone forever. Help us to speak the truth and remember the words of John 8:32 – ‘Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.’ May our world see the power of faith. May our nation know the strength of selfless service. And may our enemies continue to taste the inescapable force of freedom. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen,” she prayed.
May 12, 9:09 am
McCarthy arrives on the Hill
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy arrived on Capitol Hill before 9 a.m. Wednesday when House Republicans are scheduled to meet behind closed doors to decide whether to remove Liz Cheney from her leadership post via secret ballot.
McCarthy announced the vote to recall Cheney on Monday, after he told Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures he supported New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, who has supported the “big lie” about the election, for the No. 3 House Republican position.
House Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who joined Cheney and eight other House Republicans in voting to impeach Trump, has criticized McCarthy in recent days as being hypocritical, pointing to how McCarthy gave a floor speech in January also tying Trump to the Capitol attack before traveling to Mar-a-Lago to see the former president weeks later.
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