Before going to the White House for an infrastructure meeting with Joe Biden, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer delivered a floor speech in which he condemned House Republicans for ousting Liz Cheney as conference chair.
The Democratic leader described Cheney’s ouster as “a new and very dangerous low point” for the House Republican caucus.
Schumer argued that Cheney lost her leadership role because she told the truth about Donald Trump legitimately losing the 2020 presidential election.
“Congresswoman Cheney spoke truth to power, and for that, she’s been fired,” Schumer said. “Make no mistake, the congresswoman and I disagree on so many policy issues, but we both agree that truth matters.”
Schumer went on to say, “This is sad, a very dark moment for the Republican party. Republicans are seeking to perpetuate and act upon the ‘big lie’ that the election was stolen simply to placate the most dishonest president in American history.”
Biden meets with congressional leaders to discuss infrastructure
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are holding a meeting with congressional leaders in the Oval Office to discuss the president’s infrastructure plan.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, House speaker Nancy Pelosi and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy are all present for the meeting.
Biden expressed hope that Democrats and Republicans will be able to reach a compromise on infrastructure, although the two parties continue to argue over how to pay for the bill.
“The bottom line here is, we’re going to see whether we can reach some consensus on a compromise,” Biden told reporters at the start of the meeting. “We’re going to talk a lot about infrastructure today.”
An NBC News reporter also asked Biden whether he felt he could trust McCarthy’s leadership, given today’s vote to remove Liz Cheney as conference chair over her criticism of Donald Trump. The president did not respond.
Pelosi calls on ‘reasonable’ Republicans to ‘take back their party’ after Cheney ouster
Nancy Pelosi has released a statement condemning the ouster of Liz Cheney as House Republican conference chair.
“Congresswoman Liz Cheney is a leader of great courage, patriotism and integrity. Today, House Republicans declared that those values are unwelcome in the Republican party,” the Democratic speaker said. “The Republican denial of the truth presented by Congresswoman Cheney is reflected in their denial of the need to seek the truth in a January 6th commission and to repair the damage of January 6th with a security supplemental immediately. “For the sake of our democracy, reasonable Republicans across the country must take back their party.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of Donald Trump, argued Liz Cheney was ousted as House Republican conference chair because she “has taken a position regarding former President Trump which is out of the mainstream of the Republican”.
That “position” seems to be acknowledging the fact that Trump lost the 2020 presidential election and thus Joe Biden is the legitimately elected president.
“Today’s decision by the House Republican Conference regarding Congresswoman Cheney was not about her vote for impeachment,” Graham said. “It was about her belief President Trump should be purged from the GOP and those who objected to the results of the 2020 election should be disqualified from future leadership positions.
“As a result, the House GOP Conference has decided to move forward in a different direction.”
Other Republicans have similarly claimed that Cheney’s ouster is unrelated to her January vote in support of impeaching Trump for inciting the Capitol insurrection.
However, it should be noted that the clashes between Trump and Cheney started when she put out a fiery statement condemning the then-president for his actions on January 6 shortly before the vote on impeachment. Cheney has continued to defend her impeachment vote and criticize Trump for inciting the deadly violence on January 6.
So although House Republicans say the true reason for Cheney’s ouster is the tension between her and Trump, it should be noted that those disputes are occurring as a direct result of her vote to impeach him.
While some Republicans lamented the ouster of Liz Cheney, freshman congressman Madison Cawthorn instead responded by taunting his colleague.
“Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye Liz Cheney,” the North Carolina Republican said on Twitter.
Congressman Ken Buck, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus in the House, described Liz Cheney as a victim of “cancel culture”.
“Liz Cheney was canceled today for speaking her mind and disagreeing with the narrative that President Trump has put forth,” Buck told reporters shortly after the vote to remove Cheney as conference chair.
Buck was one of Cheney’s few defenders in the House Republican caucus going into the vote, and he was the only Republican lawmaker present for Cheney’s defiant floor speech last night, according to CNN.
The Guardian’s Daniel Strauss reports:
Immediately after the meeting where she was stripped of her position, Liz Cheney said she was “absolutely committed” in not embracing Donald Trump’s “big lie” about the election.
“We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the constitution,” Cheney said. “Going forward, the nation needs it, the nation needs a Republican party that is based upon fundamental principles of conservatism and I am committed and dedicated to ensuring that that’s how this party goes forward and I plan to lead the fight to do that.”
Cheney’s ouster was widely expected after she found herself at odds with other members of Republican leadership over her refusal to stop blaming Trump for inciting the mob attack on the US Capitol on 6 January.
Ahead of the vote, Cheney addressed the caucus, standing by her position.
“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,” Cheney said. At moments in her response ahead of the closed vote she was booed by some of her colleagues.
The meeting to remove Liz Cheney from her post as House Republican conference chair took a total of about 15 minutes.
A Capitol Hill reporter for Politico described the event as “the shortest conference meeting I can remember covering”.
The meeting was so short that some House Republicans missed the vote entirely because they arrived a few minutes late, per the New York Times.
Looking ahead, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has set an election to replace Liz Cheney as conference chair for this Friday, per PBS NewsHour.
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who is widely expected to replace Cheney, has formally announced her candidacy for the position. She has already received Donald Trump’s endorsement as well.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s decision to conduct a voice vote on removing Liz Cheney as conference chair surprised many people, including some members of the Republican caucus.
Speaking to reporters after the conference meeting, Adam Kinzinger, a Cheney ally, said members were not given the chance to deliver speeches on the issue, aside from Cheney’s short remarks at the top of the meeting.
“It was definitely not what I expected,” Kinzinger said.
But the lack of a secret vote on removing Cheney will allow McCarthy to dodge questions about how many members still supported the anti-Trump congresswoman and whether his caucus remains divided over the former president.
Trump belittles Cheney as ‘a bitter, horrible human being’ after vote to remove her
Donald Trump has released a statement celebrating the removal of Liz Cheney as House Republican conference chair.
“Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being. I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party,” the former president said in the statement released by his political action committee.
“She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country. She is a talking point for Democrats, whether that means the Border, the gas lines, inflation, or destroying our economy.”
Trump closed the statement by predicting that Cheney would soon become a “Paid Contributor on CNN or MSDNC”.
Shortly after she was removed as conference chair, Cheney told reporters that she remained committed to pushing back against Trump’s hold over the Republican party.
“I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office,” Cheney told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Liz Cheney delivered a short speech to fellow House Republicans before the vote to remove her as conference chair, and she was booed for her critical comments about Donald Trump, according to Politico.
A veteran journalist who covered the fall of the Soviet Union said Cheney’s ouster reminded him of how Joseph Stalin would conduct purges of his opponents.