How Trump is hunting down the GOP’s leading families

In the civil war between Donald Trump and the GOP’s waning establishment, no Republican has crossed the former president and come out ahead.

Yet as Rep. Liz Cheney’s likely ouster from House leadership lays bare, Trump has reserved a special fury for the scions of the GOP’s leading families in his attempt to exercise full dominion over the Republican Party.

Whether it’s the Cheneys, the Bushes or the lesser bloodlines — such as the Romneys or the Murkowskis — Trump has been relentless in his efforts to force them to bend the knee. Even Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Sen. John McCain — who herself has never run for office — has been knocked down, censured by Trump allies who run the state Republican Party in Arizona.

It’s the clearest sign that the modern Republican Party hasn’t just broken with its traditionalist past. It’s shredding every vestige of it.

“It’s a tragedy,” said Arne Carlson, a former two-term Republican governor of Minnesota. “The problem with the revolution is they continue to get more and more extreme. Whereas Liz Cheney was on the right, she now finds herself being pushed into the middle and, ultimately, off the cliff.”

As a prominent link between the old GOP and the new party of Trump, Liz Cheney is more than just another name on Trump’s enemies list. If his supporters in the House ultimately oust the Wyoming Republican from her leadership post, as expected, it will mark the repudiation of decades of Cheney family influence on the Republican party, dating back to her father’s time in the Nixon and Ford administrations, in GOP House leadership and as vice president.

Trump’s erasure of the institutions of the pre-Trump GOP was, of course, the promise of his presidency — his anti-establishment fervor a feature of Trumpism, not a bug. Long before Trump ran for office, he publicly criticized Ronald Reagan, called Pat Buchanan a “Hitler lover,” and wrote of the Bush family in 2013 that “we need another Bush in office about as much as we need Obama to have a 3rd term.”

Even so, Trump’s feats of political engineering — his felling of family legacies that once defined the party — are remarkable. He has almost single-handedly managed to sever the Bush family line, brutalizing “low energy” Jeb Bush, then the Florida governor, in the 2016 primary and depriving the Bush dynasty of a third presidential nominee. Once in office, Trump even described himself as a “far greater” president than Reagan.

“He shits on everybody, even former presidents,” said Mark Graul, a Republican strategist in Wisconsin who oversaw George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign in the state.

Cheney, he said, just “happens to be the daughter of the [former] vice president.”

For the GOP’s base, it doesn’t matter who Cheney’s father is, or that she herself is the highest-ranking Republican woman in House history. The party that was once grounded in tradition is, after four years of Trump, in the process of abandoning the modern pillars it’s built on.

Take Sen. Mitt Romney, the son of former Michigan Gov. and presidential contender George Romney, and himself the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee.

Prompted by Trump’s longstanding animus toward Romney, a measure by Utah Republicans to censure the senator failed over the weekend. But Republicans in his home state still booed him at their party convention. Afterward, Trump wrote, “So nice to see RINO Mitt Romney booed off the stage at the Utah Republican State Convention. They are among the earliest to have figured this guy out, a stone cold loser!”

There’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the daughter of Frank Murkowski, the former U.S. senator and governor of Alaska. After Murkowski voted with six other Republican senators to convict Trump at his impeachment trial — repeating Cheney’s sin in the House — Trump pledged to travel to Alaska ahead of the 2022 midterm elections to campaign against “a disloyal and very bad Senator.” The Alaska Republican Party censured her in March.

And then there’s George W. Bush, Bush’s former vice president, Dick Cheney, and Cheney’s daughter Liz. In his deconstruction of that lineage, Trump has not only ostracized Cheney for her impeachment vote, but repeatedly branded her as a “warmonger,” as he did again on Wednesday, revisiting the wounds of the Iraq War and capitalizing on the schism between the party’s non-interventionists and neocons.

Taking stock of the rift between Trump and the Cheneys, Richard George, a former Republican National Committee member from Wyoming said, “I think that family politics has made a mistake, and I think Liz made a mistake.”

“Most people in Wyoming, they like the Cheney family, but they’re really disappointed with the way Liz voted in the impeachment hearing,” he said.

George looks at Cheney like many Republicans do — in pre-Trump impeachment and post-Trump impeachment terms. Though George said, “I like her very much as a person, and she’s done good things for us in the state of Wyoming,” he said she let her constituents down on “one of the most important, if not the most important votes.”

If the result is that Trump undoes the Cheney legacy — or others — he said, it will be cause for celebration, not grief.

“The undoing of political dynasties,” George said, “is a great thing.”

Trump himself, however, is not averse to dynastic politics — that is, if it involves his own family. The former president’s children are fixtures in the MAGA world and could have political futures. Lara Trump, Trump’s daughter-in-law, has considered running for a U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina, and Donald Trump Jr. is liked by activists enough that he finished a distant third in a 2024 presidential straw poll run without his father’s name on the ballot at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. Ivanka Trump drew frequent mention as a prospective primary opponent to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio until passing on a bid earlier this year.

Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale once predicted the Trumps would become “a dynasty that will last for decades.”

But that’s a Trump dynasty. The old dynasties — the ones that were rooted in an ideological or governance brand, rather than in a style or personality — have been torched.

The scions of traditional political families who have survived have largely done so by choosing Trump when it came to a dispute between the former president and their families. George P. Bush, Jeb Bush’s son, is still a viable politician in Texas, the Trump-supporting state where Bush is the state land commissioner. But that would likely not be the case if he hadn’t split with much of his family and endorsed the former president.

Mitt Romney’s niece, Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, is in Trump’s good graces. But she had to break with her uncle’s criticism of him — and jettison the family name — to stay there.

“In the electorate, I think that there is a growing distaste for political legacies because it provides a hint of elitism that’s going out of style,” said Mark Weaver, a Republican strategist and former deputy attorney general of Ohio.

For Cheney, he said, “She inherits both the enemies and the friends of her father, and in this modern Republican Party, there are more enemies than friends.”

That’s a Republican landscape turned upside down from where it stood before Trump took office — so much so that some legacy Republicans who have not traded their moorings for Trump hardly recognize the party anymore.

The modern GOP, George W. Bush told NBC’s “Today” show earlier this month, is “isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent, nativist.”

“It’s not exactly my vision,” Bush said. “But, you know, I’m just an old guy they put out to pasture.”

Cheney has not been discarded yet. But a vote to oust her from her position at the House GOP conference chair — a post once held by her father — is expected to come next week. And Trumpian Republicans are already preparing to challenge her in the Wyoming primary next year.

In part, that’s an outcome Cheney could have expected. Hal Daub, a former Republican congressman from the neighboring state of Nebraska who served in the House with Dick Cheney, said if Liz Cheney believed that the party could “sort of disconnect from Trump,” as she has suggested, “then she’s smoking dope.”

“That’s not reality,” Daub said. “Because his presence as a former president and active, visible Republican is going to help a lot of House members, and it’s going to help a lot of Republicans take back the House.”

In her leadership role, he said, Cheney had an obligation “to toe the party line” as it related to Trump — and say less about their points of disagreement.

The party’s willingness to punish Cheney for not doing so is a major part of Trump’s own legacy. But that endowment — dependent largely on Trump’s whims — is more malleable than the establishment lines the GOP is hacking off in service to him.

Carlson, the former Minnesota governor, has some experience with being banished by the GOP, hung out to dry by his own state GOP for his moderate politics in 2010. In a party that is wholly Trump’s, he said, no legacy — and no politician hoping to create one — is safe.

“What [House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy] doesn’t realize is he may be the next one to go,” Carlson said. “The people who set the guillotines in motion ultimately have their necks under it, as they get into these endless battles about who’s more loyal, who’s more pure.”

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She built her career boosting GOP women. Now Elise Stefanik is elevating herself

Rep. Elise Stefanik is on the verge of ascending to the House GOP's No. 3 spot thanks in part to a personal mission: boosting other Republican women.

Stefanik’s most visible identity is that of a moderate New York Republican turned Donald Trump acolyte. But she’s also been instrumental in shifting the GOP’s internal culture to prioritize electing more women to its depleted ranks, a gender imbalance she once dubbed a “crisis” for the party. Following a successful 2020 election cycle aided by Stefanik’s PAC dedicated to that mission, Republicans of all ideological stripes view that model as a winning recipe for seizing back the House next year.

Stefanik’s efforts to promote GOP women have not only added to her star power, but also made her particularly appealing to fellow House Republicans as they move closer to replacing embattled Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in leadership. In fact, Stefanik turns out to have built something of her own base — an impressive 18 of the 30 female candidates endorsed by her Elevate PAC won their races last year, and some are already lining up behind Stefanik as the next House GOP conference chair.

If Stefanik clinches the No. 3 position next week, as is widely expected, Republicans believe they’ll send a message that neutralizes the tricky optics of yanking Cheney from power. It will add new energy to the cause of elevating GOP women, they think, both in the Capitol and at the leadership table.

"She's definitely the reason why we have a record number of Republican women in our conference today,” said freshman Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), who flipped a crucial swing seat in November. “I wouldn't have been able to build the campaign I needed to in order to win without early support from E-PAC, and her mentorship and her support along the way.”

Hinson, referring to Stefanik’s candidacy for leadership, added that "when I look at her leadership over the past several months since I've been in Congress, I think she's the right person to unify and lead us right now."

Yet even as the party makes real progress in recruiting and electing more women, the squabble over Cheney’s future has exposed the GOP’s still-lingering weaknesses on that front. The reason Republican leaders were intent on replacing Cheney with another female lawmaker is precisely because the party has no other women in positions of power in the House. Leaders also were careful to tap a veteran Republican woman — Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina — to introduce the formal resolution to oust Cheney, another nod to the uncomfortable dynamic of Republicans dumping their highest-ranking woman.

“It's dismaying,” said former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), who lost reelection in 2018 in a Trump-fueled blue wave. “I think it's sad to be used by the guys in a way like, ‘OK, we get a skirt to replace a skirt.’ And then now they're saying, ‘Oh, Virginia Foxx, you put in the resolution to get Liz to step down.’”

And the party’s decision to purge its chief Trump critic from the leadership ranks — while replacing her with a Trump die-hard who objected to certifying his loss — could also help Democrats tie some of the GOP’s most vulnerable candidates more closely to the ex-president. That's a particular risk in key suburban battlegrounds, where college-educated women fled the party under Trump.

“Nothing puts an exclamation point on the fact that Trump is the litmus test for House leadership than the fact that Elise sought out Trump's endorsement,” Comstock said. She marveled at Stefanik's decision "that she needed to" start her leadership bid by sitting for an interview with "the indicted-pardoned Steve Bannon."

Comstock, who joined Congress at the same time as Stefanik, said her colleague had gone through a transformation: "I don't recognize her and certainly, I'm not the only one who’s said that.”

Stefanik, 36, was elected in 2014, the youngest woman ever to hold a seat in Congress. She came up in politics through the establishment — as a White House staffer for former President George W. Bush and then as a staffer on former Speaker Paul Ryan’s vice-presidential campaign.

To her once moderate, mostly Republican district, she billed herself as a fresh face and solution to the GOP’s struggles at the time, promising to create jobs and stand with small business owners as part of a new generation of lawmakers in Washington. She spent her initial years appealing to rural, blue-collar voters with more conservative stances on taxes, business regulations and gun rights, while being willing to split with the party in areas like LGBTQ rights and environmental debates that affect her district’s ecosystem and tourism hotbed.

But as the Trump era began, New York’s 21st District experienced a rapid transformation. A region that handed Barack Obama a 6-point win became a 14-point Trump seat in just four years.

It was against that backdrop that Stefanik embraced the role of Trump defender, drawing praise from party leaders and piles of campaign cash after sticking up for the then-president during his first House impeachment in 2019. Now, she has Trump’s full-throated backing as the next conference chair — an endorsement as good as gold in today’s House GOP, even as some conservatives grumble over her voting record.

“Elise as conference chair gives political boost in a cycle when Republicans are just a few yards away from the majority,” said New York Republican consultant Bill Cortese. “It’s important to have people to relate to you. If you’re talking about bringing more people in and reaching out to millennials, having a woman who is a millennial holding that position is a really good idea.”

Even as she sprang to party stardom under polarizing circumstances, Stefanik was working on a passion project that earned the respect of her colleagues: electing more GOP women to Congress. She formed E-PAC after a stint as recruitment chair for the National Republican Congressional Committee during the devastating 2018 cycle, when Stefanik said she recruited some 100 women to run for the House but saw only a single new one elected to Congress.

In her post-mortem after the 2018 shellacking, she decided women candidates needed help getting through primaries — something that no Republican group offered at that time. That foray led her into a Twitter spat with then-incoming NRCC Chair Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), since the NRCC notably does not get involved in nomination fights.

But by the time Stefanik officially re-purposed her leadership PAC for her new mandate, GOP leadership joined her at her launch of E-PAC in January 2019. By then Emmer was so excited by the idea of recruiting new House Republican women that he leaked the news that Hinson wanted to run for Congress in northeast Iowa.

In total, the 2020 cycle saw the number of House GOP women grow from 13 to 31, with every new arrival backed by E-PAC. (Other outside groups dedicated to boosting female candidates, like Winning for Women and VIEW Pac, were also major contributors to that effort.)

Stefanik has boosted fellow Republicans in ways that go beyond her PAC. She’s one of the top five Republican earners on WinRed, the GOP’s digital fundraising platform. In addition, she's raised and donated over $2 million to Republican candidates: $1.4 million for women — including for recounts in seats held by Reps. Claudia Tenney and Mariannette Miller-Meeks — and $700,000 for men, a significant sum for a member not in leadership.

It helped that her breakout role in backing Trump during his first impeachment transformed her into a fundraising juggernaut. She raised a seven-figure sum for the sixth consecutive quarter in the first three months of 2021 and has a lucrative email list that includes 30,000 donors, 10,000 of them new ones, with an average contribution size of $25.

That fundraising prowess is a huge asset and selling point as she pitches herself as the new conference chair. And a source close to Stefanik said that once she lands in leadership, “we’re going to blow it up” even more.

Some ultra-conservatives, however, are uneasy that Stefanik has played so aggressively in primary races, which can alienate future colleagues. Yet Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and members of the House Freedom Caucus, have lately grown more comfortable picking sides in primaries.

For the most part, Republicans recognize the benefits of getting involved in races early on. And Stefanik allies say she has zero plans to slow down if she lands in the No. 3 chair.

“If you look at us picking up seats in 2020, of course Kevin McCarthy and Tom Emmer were the architects of that, but Elise Stefanik played a huge role,” said Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), who was actively whipping for Cheney to keep her post in February but is now campaigning for Stefanik.

“Her recruitment of women was key to making sure we have the most women elected in the party ever. That was Elise Stefanik.”

Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.

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MAGAworld pans Stefanik

Donald Trump has called Elise Stefanik “a new Republican star,” a “smart communicator” and — perhaps his highest praise — “tough.”

But the MAGA faithful aren’t so sure.

Within minutes of Trump’s endorsement of the New York congresswoman for GOP conference chair on Wednesday, top MAGA voices erupted in anger — a rare break with the former president. The invective aimed at Stefanik, who was perceived to be insufficiently conservative and a relative newcomer to the Trump cause, continued to zoom through the MAGA-sphere on Thursday.

The Columbia Bugle — an anonymously-run Twitter account with nearly 179,000 followers, including high-profile Trump movement influencers — described Stefanik as “a slightly less annoying America Last Republican.” Lou Dobbs, the former Fox Business show host who was one of Trump’s fiercest cable television supporters, dismissed her as a “RINO.”

Others, like pundits Ann Coulter and Raheem Kassam, editor in chief of the populist online outlet National Pulse, went on a retweeting spree, highlighting writer after writer, tweet after tweet, questioning Stefanik’s commitment to the Trump movement’s core tenets, particularly on immigration.

.@RepStefanik? Comment?” Jenna Ellis, formerly Trump’s senior legal counsel, pointedly asked on Thursday, retweeting a thread highlighting Stefanik’s record.

Popular MAGA news and opinion sites were less sparing, with Revolver calling her a “neocon establishment twit”, and Big League Politics, founded by Breitbart alumni, slamming her for only getting on the Trump defense train in 2019 and characterizing her as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Though she received praise and support from other MAGA-friendly politicians — Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and, of course, Trump himself — it was a hostile grassroots reception for the congresswoman pitched as a MAGA-worthy option to replace Rep. Liz Cheney in GOP leadership.

Cheney’s ouster from the no. 3 Republican position in the House appears almost certain following her sustained criticism of Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud, a politically suicidal position in a party where the former president remains popular with the GOP base.

“[Stefanik] is the identity of a swamp creature, and she has probably the most liberal voting record of anybody who represents a strong Republican district,” said Ryan James Girdusky, a conservative political consultant and the author of the National Populist newsletter.

While Stefanik is seen within the party as a rising star and prolific fundraiser — particularly after aggressively defending Trump during his impeachment trials — Trump’s populist base views her quite differently. If they don’t eventually come on board, that could mean a limited tenure for Stefanik as a member of the leadership team.

Several MAGA news sites cited Stefanik’s voting record, where she backed the then-president’s position only 78 percent of the time, making Cheney’s record of 93 percent look slavishly loyal in comparison. Stefanik compiled that record despite representing a comfortably Republican district that Trump won easily in 2020.

Even worse, she started her career working in the George W. Bush White House. “I’ve heard from several conservative members of Congress this same concern over her voting record. We need answers,” Ellis tweeted Wednesday.

Stefanik’s office did not respond to a request for comment. But on Thursday morning, the congresswoman made an appearance on Steve Bannon’s podcast War Room to tout her most important MAGA bona fides: supporting the Arizona recount and promising to investigate false claims of election fraud. “We want transparency and answers for the American people — what are the Democrats so afraid of?” she said.

After the interview, Bannon sang her praises, comparing her political evolution from the establishment to MAGA to that of “fire breathing populist” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). “You’ve got Hawley in the Senate and Stefanik [in the House]. You’ve got to look at the journey,” he said.

The interview started getting pickup among MAGA influencers soon thereafter. “Excellent job by Rep.@EliseStefanik on Steve Bannon’s War Room this morning,” Trump adviser Jason Miller tweeted that afternoon, praising her stance on the Chinese Communist Party and calling her a “massive upgrade” over Cheney.

The backlash against Stefanik didn’t surface out of nowhere. For years, she’d been viewed with suspicion by hardcore elements of the MAGA base, with Big League politics running several pieces slamming her for her disloyalty to figures such as provocateur Laura Loomer. She criticized Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord and failed to pass the MAGA smell test on several key issues: immigration, border control, abortion and the war in Afghanistan.

“She ties with a couple other Republicans for the worst career voting record on immigration in New York,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the anti-immigration Center on Immigration Studies, ticking off a few of her previous positions: a yes on H-2B visas, the Farm Workers Modernization Act, and the Hong Kong Refugee bill, and a no on Trump’s child border separation policies.

“Obviously, Republicans in New York are likely to be more liberal, just because that's the environment they're in,” Krikorian said. “I think everybody understands that. But even by the standards of New York state Republicans, she's bad on immigration.”

Another issue that could harm Stefanik among MAGA supporters is her record on Afghanistan. As recently as 2019, she co-sponsored a bill with Cheney to keep 10,000 troops in the region for a year and stop troop reduction — a bill that was highly controversial among anti-war MAGA voices, who had backed Trump’s talks with the Taliban at the time.

“I understand that everyone hates Liz Cheney. I am not a fan of Liz Cheney. She should have never been in House leadership,” said Girdusky. “However, we are exchanging Liz Cheney, who at least votes correct, even though she bashes Trump publicly, [for] somebody who doesn't bash Trump publicly but votes with them almost none of the time.”

Representatives for both Trump and McCarthy did not respond to requests for comment.

Krikorian, whose institute is not weighing in on the conference chair election, noted that while Cheney’s downfall was sparked by her criticism of Trump, what had truly tanked her was her ideology, bolstered by her family name: The Wyoming congresswoman’s neoconservative beliefs have no place in today’s GOP.

Stefanik’s positions weren’t much more palatable to the party base, in Krikorian’s view.

“Trump, in his gut, does think we should get out of Afghanistan, he does think there's too many illegal aliens coming over the border,” he observed. “It's not that he doesn't believe any of that stuff. It's just that he's kind of a narcissistic guy. And if people flatter him, he's for them, regardless of what they believe. And so the question is: Do you go for Trumpism? Or do you go for Trump?”

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Removing Liz Cheney isn’t a turning point for the Republican Party, it’s a post-extinction event

No Democrat loves Liz Cheney. Over the years she has consistently taken positions that were among the most conservative, most regressive, and most aggressive of any Republican in Congress. She is among those most protective of the wealthy, most willing to sacrifice the environment, and most willing to ignore injustice. Looking back at the key votes of this past year, Cheney voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, against the Paycheck Fairness Act, against a bipartisan bill expanding background checks, against the SAFE Banking Act, and against the American Dream Act. She also voted against removing Marjorie Taylor Greene from committees.

In fact, Cheney cast a “No” vote on every single key vote in 2021—except one. That one exception was her vote on Jan. 13 in favor of impeaching Donald Trump for his role in inciting an insurrection against the U.S. Capitol. 

Cheney is, in every way, a perfect example of the kind of Republican that progressives have fought so hard for decades. And that’s exactly why she’s being removed from her post. Because that Republican Party no longer exists.

Cheney got a chance to have her own say in The Washington Post, in which made it clear that her struggle with Donald Trump is on a level that goes beyond policy. “Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work—confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this.”

Cheney also calls out House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who was willing to tell at least a modicum of the truth a week after being forced to flee from the House chamber. “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” McCarthy said on Jan. 13. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.” At the time, McCarthy suggested that Trump deserved to be censored by Congress.

Fast forward three months, and McCarthy was not only visiting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, but defending his actions on Jan. 6.  With each passing week, McCarthy has moved more and more to not just defend Trump, but rewrite the history of the past four years, including the assault on the Capitol. His willingness to surrender any sign of honesty has earned McCarthy a spot that The New York Times described as “an alpha lap-dog inside Mr. Trump’s kennel of acolytes.”

Trump left office in shame, with an approval rating that matched the worst of his term in office and a record number of impeachments attached to his name. Republicans, including McCarthy, might have decided to move away from Trump and champion their agenda with someone else at the head. It might even seem logical that the 56-year-old congressional leader might push himself forward, seizing the opportunity to stand in the spotlight far from Trump’s orange glow.

Except … there is no Republican agenda. Not any more. That Republicans failed to adopt a party platform in 2020 wasn’t just some fluke of Trump’s bungled management. It’s a 20-gigawatt Broadway sign signaling that there is no there there, with a footnote that McCarthy may be the weakest “leader” Congress has ever seen.

That’s not to say that Republicans aren’t trying to pass bills. It’s just that those bills have no real purpose beyond making people angry. Making people angry—on both sides of the political spectrum—isn’t just the modern Republican brand, it’s all that remains of their party of trolls. Their base has no demands other than to be fed lies that make them angry, and to see Republicans taking action that makes everyone else angry.

Which is why they went crawling back to Trump. He knows how to spread nonsense that makes people angry, and that’s all the party is about.

Liz Cheney, with her positions and her ideas is an alien to this party. She’s talking about a turning point in a party that turned to ash years ago. Meanwhile, the Gaetz-Greene-Boebert base of the party, both in and out of Congress, see her as an alien who, rambling about conservative principles, might as well be High Martian.

So they’ll get rid of her. But only after Politico publishes a few editorials about how “Democrats love Cheney” without bothering to quote a single Democrat. Because then Republicans get to be angry at Cheney and convinced they’ve also upset Democrats. That’s their idea of a win these days.

“While embracing or ignoring Trump’s statements might seem attractive to some for fundraising and political purposes,” wrote Cheney in her editorial, “that approach will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country.” But she’s wrong about a critical point here. The tense.

That damage has already been done. 

Cheney: ‘History is watching.’ House Republicans: Screw that, Trump is watching

Rep. Liz Cheney, for now the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, has decided she cares more about principles and how history will judge her than she does about the Trumpist orthodoxy of today’s Republican Party. For that, she’s about to be ousted from House Republican leadership and replaced by someone more loyal to Trump but less conservative on the issues, with a simple majority vote of the House Republicans coming as soon as next week.

Cheney refuses to participate in the lie that the election was stolen from Trump—the lie that spurred the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol—so Republicans are swiftly moving to strip her of her leadership role and replace her with Rep. Elise Stefanik, who has been all in on the Big Lie. Rep. Steve Scalise, the second-ranking House Republican, has publicly backed Stefanik over Cheney, while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is reportedly supporting Stefanik behind the scenes after becoming increasingly critical of Cheney in public. And, on Wednesday, Donald Trump himself loudly endorsed Stefanik.

Cheney is defiant, on Wednesday evening publishing a Washington Post op-ed defending her position and calling out McCarthy for having changed his. McCarthy, she accurately charged, has “changed his story” from his Jan. 13 statement that “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”

“The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” she wrote, going on to call for Republicans to support criminal investigations of the Capitol insurrection, support a bipartisan January 6 commission with subpoena power, and “stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.”

Most Republican lawmakers, of course, will do nothing of the sort. Instead, Cheney’s House colleagues are set to vote her out next week, replacing her with Stefanik, who was elected as something of a moderate and has a much less conservative lifetime voting record than Cheney. The Club for Growth is not happy about that—though it also doesn’t seem to be defending Cheney—tweeting “Elise Stefanik is NOT a good spokesperson for the House Republican Conference. She is a liberal with a 35% CFGF lifetime rating, 4th worst in the House GOP. House Republicans should find a conservative to lead messaging and win back the House Majority.”

Back in 2017, Stefanik opposed Trump on key issues, like his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, and voted against the tax law that was the major Republican legislative achievement of the Trump years. In late 2018, she took criticism from male Republicans for trying to help Republican women win primaries. But in 2019, she became one of Trump’s fiercest defenders during his first impeachment. It appears she had realized what would be her quickest path to leadership, and she has continued to remake herself in the Trumpy style, down to the LOTS OF CAPS in a Thursday morning tweet assailing Twitter, a private business, for “unconstitutional overreach” in having suspended her communications director.

To be clear, this is not a fight with a hero and a villain. It’s a fight between someone whose principles are largely punitive far-right ones that do include a basic respect for the democratic process and someone who apparently has no strong principles beyond her own advancement—if being a non-Trumpy Republican looks like the way to go, she’s that, and if Trump looks like the winning horse, she’s riding him. One of them is concerned that “History is watching. Our children are watching”—but is looking to create a Republican Party that is strong enough, in the long term, to hand over the maximum amount of power to the biggest corporations and promote endless war. The other is much less worried about history or policy than about getting the immediate promotion, thankyouverymuch. And today’s Republican Party is with the latter, less tied to any specific principle than to Trump—at least as long as he’s got the biggest megaphone and the most committed base—and definitely willing to jettison little things like election results or any pretense of non-racism to keep the Trump base motivated.

Opinion: It’s a win-win-win for Republicans — and Liz Cheney

Our political climate promotes -- almost demands -- a zero-sum mentality, where we assume every situation produces winners and losers. But on the news that House Republicans are preparing to dump their conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney (despite voting to keep her just three months ago after the second Trump impeachment), I am reminded of the old rule from Michael Scott in "The Office" on optimal conflict resolution: win-win-win.
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Meghan McCain Calls Trump ‘Cheeto Jesus’ And Defends Liz Cheney

Meghan McCain blasted Republicans for “shivving” Representative Liz Cheney because she supposedly won’t “debase herself to Cheeto Jesus.”

McCain delivered the diatribe during a Wednesday broadcast.

“Let’s cut the crap,” she said. “They’re shivving her for her … saying that the election wasn’t stolen and for refusing to debase herself to Cheeto Jesus.”

She accused House Minority Kevin McCarthy of intentionally saying “I’ve had it with her” on a hot mic during an off-camera moment on Fox & Friends.

Recent reports have indicated that Cheney (WY), the number three Republican in the House, could be ousted from her leadership role before the end of the month.

RELATED: Republicans Moving Closer To Ousting Liz Cheney From Leadership

Meghan McCain’s ‘Cheeto Jesus’ Insult Wasn’t the Worst Thing She Said

Some of the latest reports indicate Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) may be the woman who replaces Cheney.

Stefanik has the support of Trump himself, along with Minority Whip Steve Scalise.

Rather than prop Stefanik up on her leadership credentials, McCain practically accused the GOP of using her on behalf of Trump.

“I feel very defensive of Liz Cheney,” a clearly shaken McCain said. “I promise you there’s going to be consequences.”

“Go ahead in this sausagefest of MAGA up on Capitol Hill!” she continued. “Pull her out and put another woman in who will do anything you want for President Trump.”

McCain then mocked Trump supporters: “The election wasn’t stolen … He’s Jesus.”

RELATED: Trump On 2024: Supporters Will Be ‘Very Happy’ When I Make Announcement

The View’s Token Conservative Had A Liberal-esque Meltdown

McCain seems unable to comprehend that “Cheeto Jesus” insults are just as reprehensible as anything Trump has ever mean-tweeted.

Not to mention the inability to understand that Cheney’s tenuous hold on her leadership role is less about Trump and more about her inability to move on and put the party first.

Remember, it’s the same, as McCain says, “sausagefest of MAGA on Capitol Hill” that supported Cheney despite her impeachment vote back in February. They voted to keep her in the role of leadership, 145-61.

Since then, Cheney has refused to stop talking down to Trump supporters, accusing them of believing “the big lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, has gone after colleagues in her own party who support Trump, and vowed to campaign on impeaching Trump “every day of the week.”

Cheney fist bumps President Biden and seems unable to focus on defeating an administration that supports government funding of abortions, will be taxing the hell out of the American people, and has created a humanitarian crisis at the border.

Meghan McCain’s mom, meanwhile, works for that same administration.

And for some reason they think they can tell you that denouncing Trump – a man who fought to push conservative values as President – is the only way to show you’re a true Republican.

If being a Republican means siding with the Cheneys and McCains of the world, then it’s time for a new party.

 

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The Political Insider ranks #16 on Feedspot’s “Top 70 Conservative Political Blogs, Websites & Influencers in 2021.”

 

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Trump And GOP Leadership Endorse Replacement For Liz Cheney

Anti-Trump Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) could face a vote on whether or not she will lose her leadership role in the House as GOP Conference Chair as early as next week.

It’s becoming clear that Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) will be the primary challenger to Cheney for the Conference Chair position.

Stefanik has been calling House GOP members in order to drum up support, and she’s gotten support from the biggest name around.

On Wednesday, Trump officially endorsed Stefanik to replace Cheney as the GOP Conference Chair. 

RELATED: Nancy Pelosi Gives ‘Lynne Cheney’ Praise For ‘Her Courage And Patriotism’

Cheney’s Clash With Republicans

Liz Cheney has been at odds with many of her fellow Republicans since she voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Cheney promptly blamed Trump for the violence, and has stated on a number of occasions that the GOP needs to distance themselves from Trump after Trump continued to claim that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. 

In February, Cheney avoided being removed as Conference Chair position, but was censured by several Republican committees in Wyoming.

She has continued to be outspoken about her opposition to Trump having any sway in the Republican Party.

The dust ups between Cheney and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also began in February.

When asked at a news conference about whether Trump should speak at the annual CPAC conference that was being held the following weekend, McCarthy said, “Yes, he should.”

When the question was posed to Cheney, she stated, “That’s up to CPAC. I’ve been clear on my views about President Trump. I don’t believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.”  

RELATED: Trump Posts First Video On His Own Communications Platform, Launched After Twitter and Facebook Bans

Cheney’s Views On Trump Could Pave The Way For Stefanik

Liz Cheney’s steadfast opinion that the GOP should have nothing to do with Trump could pave the way for the new school of Republicans. 

But as GOP leaders attempt to unite the party in advance of the 2022 midterms, many are describing Cheney and her comments about Trump to be a “liability.”

House Leader McCarthy was caught on a hot mic Tuesday making the comment that, “I think she’s got real problems. I’ve had it with … I’ve had it with her. You know, I’ve lost confidence.” 

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) is also supporting replacing Cheney with Stefanik. A spokesperson for Scalise stated:

“House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker Pelosi and President Biden’s radical socialist agenda, and Elise Stefanik is strongly committed to doing that, which is why Whip Scalise has pledged to support her for Conference Chair.”

Stefanik is a fourth term Congresswoman, representing upstate New York’s 21st district.

RELATED: Trump On 2024: Supporters Will Be ‘Very Happy’ When I Make Announcement

Cheney Getting Support… From Nancy Pelosi

Not everyone is on board with Liz Cheney’s removal from the Conference Chair position.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney came out in support of Cheney on Monday. Romney lauded Cheney as “a person of conscience,” and that “she refuses to lie,” referring to the Capitol riot.

Romney continued, “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.”

But Romney may not be the support Cheney could use. Romney was roundly booed at the Utah GOP convention over the weekend. The convention was attended by more than 2,000 Republican delegates. 

Cheney also received strong support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

While calling her by the wrong name, Pelosi commended Cheney’s “courage” and “patriotism.”

The Republican Party needs to decide one way or the other if Donald Trump has a future with the party. They will find out in 2022 if they made the right decision.

 

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The Political Insider ranks #16 on Feedspot’s “Top 70 Conservative Political Blogs, Websites & Influencers in 2021.”

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Ernst defends fellow Republican leader Cheney — but calls for intra-GOP peace

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa — Sen. Joni Ernst doesn’t agree with Liz Cheney’s opposition to former President Donald Trump. The Iowa Republican still says her fellow GOP leader has the right to stand her ground.

Ernst, the Capitol's only other Republican woman in elected leadership aside from Cheney, said in an interview that her Wyoming colleague shouldn't be expected to fall in line rhetorically or keep her mouth shut just to appease her GOP critics. But as Cheney forgoes a fight to keep her House leadership spot amid a push to unseat her for her Donald Trump apostasy, Ernst urged their party to get past its long-running battle between pro-Trump and anti-Trump factions as it prepares its campaign to take back Congress next year.

“Any elected official should stand their ground. If you feel firmly about something, you should stand your ground. But I also believe that we need to come together as a party, recognize we have differences within the party but the goal with us should be to win seats,” Ernst said here after a stop on her annual 99-county tour.

With “what’s going on in the House," she added, "they need to evaluate: Is this helping or hurting our party?”

Ernst is the No. 5 leader in the Senate Republican conference and will seek to ascend to the No. 4 spot of Republican Policy Committee chair following next year's retirement of Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri. The second-term senator did not say explicitly she wants Cheney to remain as the No. 3 House Republican but had warm words for her colleague even as many in the House GOP seek to toss Cheney out of leadership.

“I know Liz. I appreciate Liz so much. And she feels very strongly about her stance. And again, I know many Republicans that feel very strongly about their stance: pro-Trump, not for Trump, whatever it is. But at the end of the day we have work to get done,” Ernst said.

Cheney may be ousted as soon as next week for continuing to push back against Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him. She survived a bid to remove her from leadership earlier this year after she voted to impeach Trump for inciting a riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Ernst voted to acquit Trump in his second impeachment trial, although she also voted to certify the election for President Joe Biden even as most House Republicans and a handful of Senate Republicans sought to challenge the election results.

Her warm words for Cheney on Wednesday went beyond those of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who declined to weigh in when asked if he would do anything to help Cheney keep her position.

"100 percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration," he said at an event in Kentucky. McConnell has previously backed Cheney amid the Wyoming Republican's criticism from within their party.

And when Ernst does talk about Trump, she doesn’t sound at all like Cheney — or McConnell, who criticized Trump before his own acquittal vote and has since avoided the former president's jabs.

“I appreciate President Trump and I appreciate all he has done for our country. And I think we made significant strides forward under the Trump administration, especially in our economy. But everybody has the right to express their opinion,” Ernst said.

She followed with a piece of advice for her party: “At the end of the day we need to all pull together as Republicans and make sure that we’re securing seats.”

Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.

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