‘An Act Of Pure Cowardice’: Cheney Ouster Draws Dismay From GOPers And Dems

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) arrives for a House Republican press conference on Capitol Hill on March 9, 2021. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
May 12, 2021 1:45 p.m.

Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-WY) removal as House Republican Conference Chair on Wednesday has lawmakers, including some of her GOP colleagues, worrying about the grim implications of the party punishing one of its leaders for acknowledging the indisputable fact that Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) told TPM reporter Tierney Sneed and other journalists outside the House chamber that he had voted to save Cheney, saying that she was being “canceled” by the conference (an incredibly rare instance of a Republican complaining about canceling outside the context of Dr. Seuss or other meaningless culture war grievances).

“Liz didn’t agree with President Trump’s narrative, and she was canceled,” Buck said. “We have to deal with this narrative at some point.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who had slammed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for pandering to the GOP’s “legislative terrorists” earlier on Wednesday, told reporters after the vote that he was “fully supportive” of Cheney.

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“What happened today was sad,” Kinzinger said. “Liz has committed the only sin of being consistent and telling the truth, the truth is that the election was not stolen.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) praised Cheney as “a leader of great courage, patriotism and integrity.”

“Today, House Republicans declared that those values are unwelcome in the Republican party,” she said in a statement, adding that “for the sake of our democracy, reasonable Republicans across the country must take back their party.”

Other Democratic leaders similarly blasted House Republicans’ vote, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) lamenting that “it appears that ‘the Big Lie’ is no longer on the retreat among the Republicans but instead is spreading like a cancer.”

“Far be it for me to tell House Republicans who should lead them, but it’s truly a dangerous, dangerous sign of our times that the price of admission in today’s Republican Party is silence in the face of provable lies,” Schumer said during a speech on the Senate floor shortly after the Cheney vote.

“What a sad day for the American Republican Party,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told CNN. “It was an act of pure cowardice for them to remove her from leadership, and then to do it by a secret voice vote. That just tells the whole story as far as I am concerned.”

“Donald Trump owns the soul of the Republican Party of America, and it was proved today in the House of Representatives,” he added.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki remarked during her daily briefing that it was “disturbing to see any leader, regardless of party, being attacked for simply speaking the truth.”

TPM’s Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.

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