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Liz Cheney Says She’s Fighting for Republican Party’s ‘Soul’

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 5/16/2021 Craig Torres and Jordan Robertson
Liz Cheney wearing glasses and a blue shirt: House GOP Expected To Vote On Ouster Of Liz Cheney's Leadership Role © Bloomberg House GOP Expected To Vote On Ouster Of Liz Cheney's Leadership Role

(Bloomberg) -- Representative Liz Cheney said former President Donald Trump’s role in her ouster was “dangerous” and that she’ll do all she can to prevent a second Trump term in what she called “a battle for the soul of the Republican Party.”

Cheney, whom House Republicans ousted as their No. 3 leader last week, faced off in dueling Sunday show interviews with Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the Trump-backed pick who replaced her in the position.

“We have to recognize what it means for the nation to have a former president who has not conceded and who continues to suggest that our electoral system cannot function,” Cheney said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“That kind of questioning about our process, frankly, it’s the same kinds of things that the Chinese Communist Party says about democracy: that it’s a failed system, that America is a failed nation.”

Stefanik, 36, was first elected to the House in 2014 as a moderate and emerged as one of Trump’s most prominent defenders during his first impeachment. She was selected on a 134-46 vote at a closed-door meeting of GOP House members.

Trump Loyalist Stefanik Selected as No. 3 House GOP Leader

Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, represents Wyoming and remains in the House after being dumped from leadership. She was among 10 House Republicans who voted with Democrats in January to impeach Trump a second time.

Before challenging the former president’s assertions about fraud in the 2020 presidential election and blaming him for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, Cheney had clashed with Trump on such topics as foreign affairs -- although she voted for his re-election. He’s repeatedly call the conservative Republican a “war-monger.”

“What we have seen over the course of the last couple of weeks is really the opening salvo in what is a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, a battle for the soul of our democracy,” Cheney said on “Fox News Sunday.”

While Cheney said she’ll “do everything” to make sure Trump isn’t the 2024 Republican nominee, she dodged on Sunday when asked if she might make her own run for president, or if she’d leave the GOP if he were nominated.

‘Looking Backwards’

Stefanik said Trump is the party’s leader and portrayed Cheney as fixated on the past.

“She is looking backwards, we are looking forward,” Stefanik said on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“Voters determine the leader of the Republican Party and they continue to look to President Trump for his vision,” she said. “And he’s going to be an important part of us winning back the House in 2022.”

Calling for tougher voter ID laws, Stefanik took up the former president’s recent attempts to cast doubt on the 2020 election result in Arizona.

For now, Republican voters are with Stefanik, not Cheney. A CBS News poll released on Sunday showed that of GOP supporters aware of last week’s developments, 80% said they agreed with Cheney’s removal. Two-thirds said that being loyal to Trump is important.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, said pledging “all your loyalty” to the former president “is something that echoes a little bit out of North Korea.”

“You can’t say he’s the leader and then say we have to move on,” Kinzinger said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, joined Cheney in backing a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters and calling on House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy to back it.

“I would suspect that Kevin will be subpoenaed” to testify, Upton said on CNN. Upton and Kinzinger were also among the Republicans to vote for Trump’s impeachment in January.

(Updates with poll results in 14th paragraph.)

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