As House Republicans inch closer to ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as the caucus’ conference chair for her vehement refusal to go along with former President Trump’s election fraud falsehoods, a few GOP lawmakers on Sunday came out in support of the third-ranking Republican as her future in GOP leadership hangs in the balance.
With the exception of Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), who is the only other Republican woman serving in elected leadership, most prominent Republicans have refused to come to Cheney’s defense as she continues to warn the party against centering itself around Trump’s bogus claims of a stolen election.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dodged an opportunity to throw his support behind Cheney amid Republicans’ outrage in the aftermath of her vote to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” telling reporters last week that 100 percent of my focus is standing up to [the Biden] administration.”
Adding to his repeated sidestepping of opportunities to go to bat for Cheney, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Fox News on Sunday that he supports Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to replace Cheney as the caucus’ conference chair, much like House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA).
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News’ Sean Hannity last week that the Republican Party “can’t grow without” Trump, while slamming the third-ranking Republican as a major obstacle for the GOP heading into next year’s midterm elections.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), the chair of the Republican Study Committee caucus, took to “Fox News Sunday” to blast Cheney for supposedly having “failed” as House GOP conference chair and becoming a “distraction” for the caucus’ goal of retaking the majority in Congress next year due to bucking Trump.
A few Republicans, however, backed Cheney on Sunday, ahead of House Republicans’ scheduled vote on Wednesday that will determine the fate of the third-ranking Republican’s leadership post:
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
Cassidy, who was one of the handful of Republicans that voted to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” earlier this year, refuted Graham’s idea of a GOP that can’t move forward without the former president.
“If you look at polls, there is a whole group of folks that agree with Liz Cheney and so for us to win in 2022 and 2024, we need everybody,” Cassidy said during an interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We need those who feel as Liz. We need those who feel as Lindsey.”
Cassidy reiterated that the GOP’s focus should be on policies in order to regain the majority in Congress next year.
“Now ultimately it’s about the policies. You see that Cheney, Cassidy support those policies. Those policies are our ticket to victory,” Cassidy said. “And I think those policies will bring us back in 2022.”
NEW: Can the GOP grow without Donald Trump? @SenBillCassidy says "for us to win in 2022 and 2024, we need everybody."
"If you look at polls, there is a whole group of folks that agree with Liz Cheney. … We need those who feel as Liz. We need those who feel as Lindsey." pic.twitter.com/tgLZDIsONQ
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) May 9, 2021
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)
Kinzinger, who was among the 10 House Republicans that voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment for “incitement of insurrection,” compared the GOP to the sinking of the Titanic when asked about his caucus’ efforts to oust Cheney as its conference chair in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
After calling out McCarthy for walking back his initial condemnation of the former president for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection, Kinzinger deployed his Titanic metaphor when describing the state of the GOP.
“We’re like, you know, in this in the middle of this slow sink, we have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it’s fine,” Kinzinger said. “And meanwhile, as I’ve said, you know, Donald Trump’s running around trying to find women’s clothing and get on the first lifeboat.”
Kinzinger then expressed his disbelief that only a handful of Republicans have acknowledged that Trump incited the mob behind the Capitol attack, before arguing that the same lawmakers who want to oust Cheney from her leadership role are those who say it’s time to move on from the insurrection that Trump incited.
“We have so many people, including our leadership in the party, that has not admitted that this is what it is, which was an insurrection led by the President of the United States, well deserving of a full accounting from Republicans,” Kinzinger said.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) likens GOP to “Titanic”: “We’re in the middle of this slow sink. We have a band playing on the deck, telling everybody it’s fine, and meanwhile Donald Trump’s running around, trying to find women’s clothing and get on the first lifeboat.” pic.twitter.com/L7Wjy87ngV
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) May 9, 2021
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R)
During an interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press,” Hogan said that he is bothered by members of the GOP being in fear of retaliation from Trump.
“They’re concerned about, you know, being attacked within the party,” Hogan said. “And, you know, it just bothers me that you have to swear fealty to the dear leader or you get kicked out of the party, it just doesn’t make any sense.”
Asked about Stefanik emerging as a top contender to replace Cheney, Hogan likened House Republicans’ push to boot Cheney from her leadership role as a “circular firing squad” that distracts the party from seriously engaging in issues that should be at the top of their priority list.
“It’s sort of a circular firing squad where we’re just attacking members of our own party instead of focusing on solving problems or standing up and having an argument that we can debate the Democrats on some of the things that the Biden administration is pushing through,” Hogan said.
WATCH: @GovLarryHogan reacts to GOP's move to oust Liz Cheney from House leadership, says "it's sort of a circular firing squad where we're just attacking our own party."
"It just bothers me that you have to swear fealty to the 'Dear Leader' or you get kicked out the party." pic.twitter.com/gMVMf09Svu
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) May 9, 2021
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R)
Pressed on the possibility of Stefanik replacing Cheney in GOP leadership, Cox said that the House Republicans’ push for the third-ranking Republican’s ouster shows that the GOP is “very divided” as a party.
Cox argued that the Republican Party needs to make room for more differences in opinion among its members, and expressed his dismay over Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) getting booed at the Utah Republican Party’s organizing convention last week for his votes to convict Trump.
Utah's GOP Gov. Spencer Cox says efforts to oust Rep. Liz Cheney from party leadership shows that the GOP is divided, adding, "But as we talk about broadening the tent and bringing in a new generation of Republicans we really have to allow for those types of differences" #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/TJvPlNSxgb
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 9, 2021