By Zachary Stieber
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) should assume the position in the House Republican leadership that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) currently holds, former President Donald Trump said on Wednesday.
Trump in a statement called Cheney “a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership.”
“We want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again movement, and prioritize the values of America First. Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL endorsement for GOP Conference Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!” he added.
Stefanik responded on Twitter.
“Thank you President Trump for your 100% support for House GOP Conference Chair. We are unified and focused on FIRING PELOSI & WINNING in 2022!” she wrote, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Cheney is currently the House GOP Conference chair, making her the third most powerful Republican in the lower chamber. But she has kept denigrating Trump, months after she and nine other GOP members sided with Democrats to impeach him.
“I’ve been very clear about my views about what happened on Jan. 6, about my views of the president’s culpability, I obviously voted to impeach him, I think that it was the gravest violation of an oath of office by any president in American history,” she said during an appearance in April on Fox News.
Trump has repeatedly hit back. In a separate statement, he accused Cheney of continuing to say there was no election fraud “when in fact, the evidence, including no Legislative approvals as demanded by the U.S. Constitution, shows the exact opposite.”
Trump has maintained that he is the true winner of the 2020 election, even though certified vote counts showed that Democrat Joe Biden beat him in the electoral count.
Cheney’s leadership position is in peril. Earlier Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said he backed Stefanik replacing her in the leadership team. Cheney, he suggested, is not focused enough on flipping control of the House in the 2022 midterms.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said this week Republicans are worried about Cheney’s ability “to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message.”
Cheney’s office has not responded to requests for comment. But she has defended her opposition to Trump, even after the Wyoming GOP censured her over her impeachment vote.
“The oath that I took to the Constitution compelled me to vote for impeachment, and it doesn’t bend to partisanship; it doesn’t bend to political pressure,” she said on “Fox News Sunday” in February.
“People have been lied to. The extent to which the president, President Trump, for months leading up to Jan. 6, spread the notion that the election had been stolen, or that the notion that the election was rigged, was a lie,” she added.
Whether Cheney will retain her position will likely be decided behind closed doors in a caucus wide vote. Republicans in the House already voted to keep Cheney in the leadership in February, but she faces more opposition now.
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