WASHINGTON — The first time defenders of Donald J. Trump came for Representative Liz Cheney, for the offense of having voted to impeach him, fellow Republicans closed ranks to save her leadership post, with Representative Kevin McCarthy boasting that their “big tent” party had enough room for both the former president and a stalwart critic.
Evidently, not anymore.
Just three months after she beat back a no-confidence vote by lopsided margins, Ms. Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, is facing a far more potent challenge that appears increasingly likely to end in her ouster from leadership. This time, Mr. McCarthy, the minority leader, is encouraging the effort to replace her.
Her transgression, colleagues say: Ms. Cheney’s continued public criticism of Mr. Trump, her denunciation of his lies about a stolen election and her demands that the G.O.P. tell the truth about how his supporters assaulted democracy during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
The turnabout reflects anew the passion with which Republicans have embraced Mr. Trump and the voters who revere him, and how willing many in the party are to perpetuate — or at least tolerate — falsehoods about the 2020 election that he has continued to spread.
published by Axios.)
“I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message,” Mr. McCarthy said during the portion of the interview that aired. “We all need to be working as one, if we’re able to win the majority.”
With onetime allies closing in, Ms. Cheney, known for her steely temperament, has only dug in harder. Minutes after Mr. McCarthy’s TV hit, she sent her barbed reply through a spokesman, effectively suggesting that the minority leader and Republicans moving against her were complicit in Mr. Trump’s dissembling.
getting booed at the Utah Republican Party convention on Saturday.
“Every person of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie,” Mr. Romney wrote on Twitter. “As one of my Republican Senate colleagues said to me following my impeachment vote: ‘I wouldn’t want to be a member of a group that punished someone for following their conscience.’”
Many House Republicans insist they have no problem with Ms. Cheney’s vote to impeach Mr. Trump, which she described as a vote of conscience. Nor, they say, are they bothered by her neoconservative policy positions, which skew — like those of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney — toward a hawkishness that is at odds with the “America First” slant of the party that Mr. Trump cemented.
But they fear that Ms. Cheney’s refusal to stop criticizing Mr. Trump or condemning the events of Jan. 6 could weaken the party’s message going into the 2022 midterm elections, when they hope to portray Democrats as big-government socialists so villainous they should be voted out of the majority. It has also infuriated Mr. Trump.
Many, including Mr. McCarthy, had hoped that after surviving the February vote of no confidence, Ms. Cheney, as an elected leader, would make like the rest of the party and simply move on.
Instead, she has doubled down and at times turned her fire on colleagues. The final straw for many came last week in Orlando, where Republicans gathered for their annual policy retreat in hopes of putting on a show of unity.