McCarthy’s desperation to be speaker unites an entire coalition against the GOP and its Big Lie

The more things change, the more they stay the same ... and the more they don't.

First off, what’s stayed the same (and there is simply no nice to way to say this): GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is a lying sack of sh*t.

It's an observation McCarthy made necessary Wednesday, when he stood outside the White House following an Oval Office meeting and lied about House Republicans' fervent backing of Donald Trump's Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

Asked if he had any qualms about elevating Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to a leadership post after she spent the last week spewing Trump's election fraud lies, McCarthy told reporters, "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with."

To state the obvious, McCarthy joined 138 members of his caucus in voting to reject certification of the 2020 results. McCarthy also orchestrated the ouster of the only member of the GOP leadership team who has loudly and consistently rejected Trump's lies on the matter, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. McCarthy has also very publicly enlisted the help of Trump—chief promoter of the baseless fraud lies—in retaking control of the House next year. In essence, McCarthy has now built the foundations of House Republicans' 2022 strategy entirely on Trump's overt lies about "the legitimacy of the presidential election," as he put it.

As Cheney later told NBC News of McCarthy's debased leadership, "I think that he is not leading with principle right now ... and I think that it is sad and I think it’s dangerous.”

The operative word in Cheney's measured response is "dangerous." And when we look back on what is yet another pathetic and frightening episode in the Republican Party's continued detachment from reality, it may actually prove to be more of a turning point than it initially seemed.  

On Thursday, a group of about 150 high-profile disaffected members and former members of the Republican Party announced an alternative movement to help save democracy from the GOP, which they now view as a "material threat to the nation."

"We will not wait forever for the GOP to clean up its act," they wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. "If we cannot save the Republican Party from itself, we will help save America from extremist elements in the Republican Party."

The piece was authored by several people, including former Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent, former George W. Bush secretary of transportation Mary Peters, and former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele.

What exactly they are proposing is admittedly squishy. They are urging likeminded Americans to join their "Call for American Renewal," an alliance that will apparently back politicians from either party in an attempt to defeat extremist Republicans. 

"We will fight for honorable Republicans who stand up for truth and decency, such as Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney, to name a few," they write. "But we will not rely on the old partisan playbook. We intend to work across party lines with other Americans to oppose extremists and defend the republic wherever we can."

But perhaps the most important takeaway from their piece is the fact that they have declared the Republican Party to be an unsalvageable trash heap in its current form—a virtual wasteland of corruption, bereft of principled ideas and leadership.

"Tragically, the Republican Party has lost its way, perverted by fear, lies and self-interest. What’s more, GOP attacks on the integrity of our elections and our institutions pose a continuing and material threat to the nation," they write. 

They are no longer working to save the Republican Party as we know it today, even if they will work to protect certain members of it. They have effectively declared war on the party leadership and its unholy alliance with Trump.

It may seem merely symbolic, but it's important—the more prominent Republicans who are willing to take this step, the better for democracy. It will free up some longtime Republican voters who have been harboring misgivings about the party to either vote Democrat or independent or not at all in the next few election cycles. Any of those options are good ones from the standpoint of trying to save our democracy.

In the meantime, some Republicans working within the party plan to make life as difficult as possible for GOP leaders like McCarthy. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of 10 who voted to impeach Trump, tweeted Wednesday that McCarthy "wrongly" assumes GOP members like himself would vote for McCarthy as House speaker if Republicans manage to win the majority next year. It's also true that Kinzinger may not survive to take part in that vote, but a group called the Republican Accountability Project plans to do as much as possible to protect the 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump's impeachment, including both Cheney and Kinzinger.

Another possibility that will make liberals queasy but would also make McCarthy's life hell is the idea of a Cheney run for president in 2024, which she didn’t exactly shoot down in her NBC interview with Savannah Guthrie. Asked about the prospect, Cheney ultimately said she would do “whatever it takes” to keep Trump from occupying the Oval Office ever again.

Sarah Longwell, executive director of the Republican Accountability Project and publisher of The Bulwark, pushed the idea of a Cheney bid for the GOP nomination in a Thursday post, but most certainly as a Republican, not a third-party candidate.

"Of course Cheney should run for president as a Republican," Longwell wrote. "She will almost certainly lose. But there is a long and noble tradition in running for president in order to shape a party, to organize and persuade voters, to lend prominence to an issue."

Cheney running for the GOP nomination would be the worst-possible-case scenario for congressional Republicans who have now bet their entire party on Trump. She would be a loud and constant reminder of the Big Lie they have embraced and the fact that they all sold their souls for political gain.

While no strategy is exactly clear or well-formed at the moment, it does seem like McCarthy's actions have advanced the thinking of some never-Trumpers and unleashed a more difficult political environment for the party overall. Many who had hoped that they could somehow influence the direction of the GOP without having to declare war on it appear to have been disabused of that notion. What happens now remains to be seen, but taking an action that cements an entire coalition against your cause is about the worst of all possible worlds for a supposed political leader. Congrats, McCarthy. 

Andrew Cuomo: ‘Harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable’

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared Thursday that "making someone feel uncomfortable" did not constitute harassment as the Democrat faces an impeachment investigation into multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

During an unrelated press conference about COVID-19 vaccinations, Mr. Cuomo was asked by a reporter to "acknowledge the fact that your intentions, according to the ...

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Chip Roy Won’t Rule Out Running Against Stefanik For GOP House Conference Seat: She ‘Should Have An Opponent’

On Wednesday, Congressman Chip Roy would not rule out running for the GOP leadership position left in the wake of former chairwoman Liz Cheney being ousted by her own party on Wednesday. 

Mere hours after Cheney was pushed out for constantly criticizing former President Donald Trump, Roy was asked if he had any desire to become the next House Republican Conference chair.

Roy had previously criticized the choice of Elise Stefanik as a replacement, arguing that she was too liberal. Some conservatives agree.

RELATED: Pelosi Launches Attack On GOP For Removing Liz Cheney – ‘Republicans Must Take Back The Party’

Roy: ‘I Don’t Believe There Should Be A Coronation’

“We’re here to talk about other topics but I will say this, (New House GOP Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik) should have an opponent,” Roy said at a press conference.

Stefanik is one of Congress’s youngest members. Her influence began to rise in the GOP during the first impeachment trial, as many began to see her as the natural successor to an increasingly unpopular Liz Cheney.

“I don’t believe there should be a coronation,” Roy told reporters on Wednesday.

“I believe that if the [House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wants us to be united, then he should take the time to do this the right way,” Roy added.

Before Cheney’s removal and Stefanik stepping into that role, Roy and other conservatives were already sounding the alarm that the new presumed House Chair was too liberal.

Multiple Outlets Were Reporting Wednesday That Roy Plans To Challenge Stefanik

The Political Insider reported on Tuesday, “With the vote to oust Congresswoman Liz Cheney from House Republican leadership looming, one conservative House Freedom Caucus member circulated a memo to every GOP office claiming that her presumed successor, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik isn’t much different from a Democrat.”

“On Tuesday, Congressman Chip Roy sent a memo asking the House Republican conference to reconsider Stefanik, citing her voting record, and encouraging Republicans to choose someone more conservative,” The Political Insider noted.

Multiple news outlets on Wednesday speculated that the Texas Republican already had his sights set on challenging Stefanik for her leadership seat.

And while the media regularly portrays Stefanik as hyper loyal to Donald Trump, and she even secured the endorsement of Trump himself, conservative critics have pointed out that she has regularly opposed Trump’s main platform issues

For example, Stefanik opposes the border wall. 

NPR put together a list of Stefanik’s attacks on core Trump positions. Besides opposing the wall, she attacked Trump’s position on NATO and implied he was soft on Putin. 

She opposed Trump’s move to block immigration from terror-heavy Middle East countries. 

She attacked Trump for allegedly describing some third-world nations as “sh&thole countries.”

Stefanik told the Post-Star that “I disagree with his (Trump) position on Russia. I believe that Russia is an adversary,” Stefanik said. “In terms of Russia’s use of cyberattacks, in terms of Russia’s use of information operation and influence campaigns, I’m deeply concerned.”

Further, she backed the so-called Mueller investigation: “I disagree on his (Trump) attacks on law enforcement and the Department of Justice. I have confidence in the Mueller investigation. I have repeatedly and explicitly said that I support the Mueller investigation.”

Stefanik opposed Trump’s efforts to replace NAFTA, and is a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform – which conservative critics, along with Trump, argue is little more than amnesty.

It seems Roy may have a point.

RELATED: GOP Rep: Stefanik Too Liberal To Replace Cheney, Urges GOP To Choose A Conservative

When asked about the potential for a challenge from Roy, Stefanik told reportes on Wednesday, “We have a great support conference-wide.” 

 

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Over 120 Retired Generals, Admirals Challenge Integrity Of 2020 Election, Question Biden’s Mental Fitness

A letter penned by 124 retired generals and admirals questions the mental fitness of President Biden and seemingly disputes the outcome of the 2020 election.

The group claims absentee ballots are not secure and questions election irregularities that were allegedly ignored in the previous presidential race.

The “Constitutional Republic is lost,” write the military leaders, without “fair and honest elections that accurately reflect the ‘will of the people.'”

“The FBI and Supreme Court must act swiftly when election irregularities are surfaced and not ignore them as was done in 2020,” they continue.

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign and its allies lost dozens of court cases challenging Biden’s victory in several states, and despite repeated objections by Trump since then, there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

RELATED: Lindsey Graham Warns Anti-Trump Republicans They’re Going To Wind Up ‘Getting Erased’

Biden’s Mental Fitness

The letter goes on to question both the mental and physical fitness of President Biden to serve as Commander-in-Chief.

“The mental and physical condition of the Commander in Chief cannot be ignored,” the group writes. “He must be able to quickly make accurate national security decisions involving life and limb anywhere, day or night.”

The group of retired military leaders refers to itself as ‘Flag Officers 4 America.’

They make mention of Democrats’ attempts to wrest away some control of the nuclear codes as Biden was first settling into office.

Dozens of House Democrats called on Biden to relinquish sole control over the country’s nuclear arsenal and the ability to launch a strike using those weapons back in February.

“Recent Democrat leadership’s inquiries about nuclear code procedures sends a dangerous national security signal to nuclear-armed adversaries, raising the question about who is in charge,” the group states.

“We must always have an unquestionable chain of command.”

RELATED: 100 Former Republican Officials Threaten To Form Anti-Trump Third Party

Partisan Attack?

Contrary to the claims made in the letter, President Biden’s doctor released a report earlier this month maintaining that he is a “healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.”

The letter from ‘Flag Officers 4 America’ was criticized by military members who maintain men and women serving in uniform should not be involved in political matters.

Jim Golby, an expert in civil-military relations, defined the letter as a “shameful effort to use their rank and the military’s reputation for such a gross and blatant partisan attack.”

Of course, ‘gross and blatant partisan attacks’ were all the rage during Trump’s tenure. In fact, one key military figure who engaged in such activities helped push Democrats to impeach the former President.

Business Insider accused the group of backing “a false election conspiracy.”

Politico ran a piece titled, “‘Disturbing and reckless’: Retired brass spread election lie in attack on Biden, Democrats”

In it, they note “…current and former military officers are speaking out, calling the missive a dangerous new sign of the military being dragged into the trenches of partisan warfare.”

The letter in question also takes issue with the Iran nuclear deal and suggests “illegals are flooding our country.”

Read the astonishing letter in full here

 

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Republicans double down on gaslighting narrative in House hearing: ‘It was not an insurrection’

Republicans clearly have settled on their strategy for a post-Jan. 6 narrative about the Capitol insurrection: Gaslight, gaslight, and then gaslight some more. That was made crystal clear today in a House hearing on the insurrection, when a parade of GOP House members consistently tried to convince the public that what it witnessed that day wasn’t real.

One congressman tried to claim that “it was not an insurrection, and we cannot call it that and be truthful.” Another doubted that the mob was comprised entirely of Donald Trump supporters:” I don’t know who did the poll to say they were Trump supporters.” And their go-to white nationalist complained that “law-abiding citizens” were under attack from “the national security state” in the course of investigating and prosecuting the insurrectionists.

The hearing, titled “The Capitol Insurrection: Unexplained Delays and Unanswered Questions,” featured testimony from former Trump officials—then-acting Attorney General Phil Rosen, and then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller—involved in the slow response by security forces to intervene in the riot. Both men generally refused to directly answer any of the questions posed to them by Democrats, and mostly claimed they had done nothing wrong that day.

But the hearing was dominated by Republicans who insisted that Democrats were making much ado out of nothing, like Charles Boyer telling Ingrid Bergman that those gaslights weren’t flickering. The most audacious of the bunch was Congressman Andrew Clyde of Georgia, who opened the hearing’s second half with a straight shot of alternative-universe ether:

This hearing is called “The Capitol Insurrection.” Let’s be honest with the American people: It was not an insurrection, and we cannot call it that and be truthful. The Cambridge English dictionary defines an “insurrection” as, and I quote, “An organized attempt by a group of people to defeat their government and take control of their country, usually by violence.” And then from the Century Dictionary, “The act of rising against civil authority, or governmental restraints, specifically the armed resistance of a number of persons against the power of the state.”

As one of the members who stayed in the Capitol and on the House floor, who with other Republican colleagues, helped to barricade the door until almost 3 p.m. that day from the mob who tried to enter. I can tell you, the House was never breached, and it was not an insurrection.

This is the truth: There was an undisciplined mob, there were some rioters and some who committed acts of vandalism, but let me be clear—there was no insurrection, and to call it an insurrection, in my opinion, is a boldfaced lie.

Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall, people in orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures—you know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January 6, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.

There were no firearms confiscated from anyone who breached the Capitol, so the only shot fired on January 6 was from a Capitol Police officer who killed an unarmed protester, Ashli Babbitt, in what will probably, eventually, be determined to be a needless display of lethal force.

Congressman Ralph Norman of South Carolina was similarly skeptical. All those Trump banners carried up the Capitol steps that day by people who got started at a Trump rally failed to persuade him that the crowd actually was comprised of Trump supporters:

When I read this sheet, and on the timeline, let’s see, at 2:07, “a mob of Trump supporters breached the steps”—I don’t know who did a poll that it was Trump supporters. You had the media saying the same thing, just like the media was saying Officer Sicknick was killed with a fire extinguisher, which he was not. But I don’t know who did the poll to say they were Trump supporters.

Clyde similarly displayed a kind of cognitive obtuseness—refusing the plain meaning of words, declining to see what’s plainly in view, while inverting reality and claiming it’s the opposite—while remaining somehow oblivious that his definitions of “insurrection” perfectly described the events of January 6, while an event he considers an “insurrection”—namely, the so-called “Russiagate” investigation—bears little to no resemblance to one:

You know, but the only insurrection I’ve witnessed in my lifetime was the one conducted by the FBI with participants from the DOJ and other agencies under the banner “Russia Russia Russia.” High-ranking employees from these federal agencies and members of an independent counsel coordinated and fed a false narrative for over two years that the 2016 election was stolen and illegitimate. Democrats were on the news almost every night saying the evidence is there, and the mainstream media amplified the fake news. This was indeed a very coordinated and well-funded effort by a determined group of people to overthrow the duly elected president, Donald J. Trump.

Georgia Congressman Jody Hice thought that Trump had established his innocence in inspiring the mob by having urged them at one point to march to the Capitol “peacefully and patriotically,” apparently magically overwhelming his exhortations that “if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore” and using the word “fight” some 20 times:

I would like to address how the media and the many Democrats have put forth a narrative that has been circulating around about how January 6, and has never been corrected. For example, the narrative that President Trump incited riots on January 6, I don’t know even understand, Madam Chair, why you yourself don’t speak the truth as to what President Trump actually stated. And what he said on the morning of January 6, he said that “I know every one of you will soon be marching over to the Capitol buildings to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard today.” Madam Chair, why don’t you talk about how the president used those words, “peacefully and patriotically,” instead of cherry-picking words that you want to use to portray an image of something that did not happen.

Congressman Yvette Herrell of New Mexico also clearly was partaking of some of the same Trump-cult kool-aid, claiming that “fake news” had “poisoned the well”:

Do you feel like the well has been poisoned here? We’ve had so much fake news, cynical politicians, disinformation—far, far from the truth. I mean, we’ve heard that Officer Sicknick was killed by a fire extinguisher in the riot, but indeed he died by natural causes, a stroke. … How much of an impact do you think social media and other outlets had on an investigation?

Miller replied to her that “some people are using that against us very effectively”—to which Herrell quipped: “Yes, I think they call that ‘fake news’.”

Then, apparently keying off Clyde’s rant, she asked each of the witnesses: “Do you classify the events of January 6 as a riot or an insurrection? One or the other.”

Many of the Republicans wanted to talk about Black Lives Matter and antifascists in the context of last summer’s civil unrest over police brutality, reverting to their tried-and-true narrative about a “violent left” that “burned down cities” as being a kind of excuse for a Republican mob to attempt to stop the counting of Electoral College ballots.

Congressman Clay Higgins of Louisiana seemed especially angry:

Nineteen people died during BLM riots last year. Hundreds and hundreds were injured. Teo thousand police officers were injured from BLM riots last year. And yet, we’re gonna discuss today, as if none of that happened, the events of January 6. The hypocrisy of this body is indeed disturbing to the scores of millions of Americans that supported President Trump and love this country, and have been denied access to their own Capitol for over a year!

Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, who has become Republicans’ go-to white nationalist since the retirement of Iowa’s Steve King, tried to claim that the post-insurrection investigation and resulting indictments and arrests were all the work of the Deep State:

Outright propaganda and lies are being used to unleash the national security state against law-abiding citizens—especially Trump voters. The FBI is fishing through homes of veterans and citizens with no criminal records and restricting the liberties of individuals that have never been accused of a crime. Mr. Biden calls January 6 the worst attack since the Civil War. A president was impeached for his alleged role in that riot. It was reported early, completely unconfirmed, that an armed insurrection, quote, beat a police officer to death with a fire extinguisher. The government has even enlisted Americans to turn in their own neighbors. Federal prosecutor Michael Sherwin on CBS News’ 60 Minutes continued the, quote, “Shock and Awe,” end of quote. Many of my Democratic colleagues opposed the “Shock and Awe” strategy in Iraq. We should similarly oppose its application against American citizens.

His Arizona colleague, Congressman Andy Biggs, also wanted to divert everyone’s attention to leftist protest violence, apparently on the grounds that it justified the insurrection, or at least made Democrats look hypocritical for trying to hold Republicans accountable for it:

Democrats have said that the events of January 6 were an assault on democracy, and if that’s true, if disorderly conduct in a restricted building is an assault on democracy, then what do we call setting fire to federal court in Portland, Oregon, with people inside—what do we call that? For years, we have watched riots in American cities while House Democrats remain silent or actually supported the violence. The federal courthouse in Portland came under attack every night and Democrats said nothing.  

And then he played a video showing select scenes of nighttime protest violence in Portland. No one mentioned that the protests did not involve an attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power in a national election.

Not a single Republican denounced Donald Trump’s role in the events or even managed to acknowledge that the insurrection was inspired by the broad dissemination of Trump’s claim that the election was stolen, and its broad support by a large number of congressional GOP members and right-wing pundits. That apparently didn’t fit into their cognitive bandwidth.

Chip Roy weighs a last-minute challenge to Stefanik for House GOP No. 3

Texas Rep. Chip Roy is considering launching a bid for House Republican Conference chair, according to multiple Republican sources, as conservatives fret that the party is moving too quickly to anoint a successor to newly deposed Liz Cheney.

Roy, a member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus, is one of several conservatives to publicly express concern about elevating Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a moderate turned Donald Trump ally who's moving swiftly to lock down support for the No. 3 post. Notably, Stefanik has the backing of the former president and GOP leaders.

Undaunted, Roy sent a memo to every Republican office in the conference on Tuesday arguing that Stefanik should not be serving in leadership and ticking off a long list of issues with her voting record. He also had been pushing for a delay in the election to replace Cheney (R-Wyo.), which will take place later this week.

“I don’t believe there should be a coronation,” Roy told reporters on Wednesday. “I believe that if the leader wants us to be united, then he should take the time to do this the right way.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik is pictured during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019.

Roy declined to say whether he was considering an official bid for the position, saying “let’s see what happens over the next 24 hours.” But his spokesperson said in a statement that they’re not “ruling anything out.”

“His focus is on serving Texas' 21st Congressional district, the American people, and the Constitution,” Roy’s spokesperson said in a statement. “But if the position must be filled, then this must be a contested race — not a coronation.”

One source familiar with Roy’s thinking said he plans to jump into the race if no one else does. His potential candidacy for conference chair was first reported by The Daily Caller.

But the Texan, a onetime chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), doesn’t have much time to make a decision. After House Republicans voted swiftly Wednesday to oust Cheney, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that a candidate forum for her replacement will take place Thursday evening and the election will be held Friday morning.

Plus, Stefanik is miles ahead with her whipping operation and her camp is feeling confident that they have all but locked down enough support to win the post. Even Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a prominent member of the Freedom Caucus, is backing Stefanik for the job.

To help ease some members’ concerns, Stefanik has been assuring members she would not buck leadership on big votes and doesn’t plan to stay in the role beyond 2022. The New Yorker told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that she has "great support" from across the conference, regardless of any other potential candidates for the post.

Still, should he throw his hat into the ring, Roy — a trouble-making and Constitution-obsessed former federal prosecutor — could prove to be an appealing alternative for angst-ridden conservatives who want to register their opposition to Stefanik.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) admitted that Stefanik is likely to become the next Republican Conference chair, even if he isn’t thrilled about it.

“I think she’s liberal,” Buck told reporters. “I will not vote for Elise Stefanik.”

Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.

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Lindsey Graham Warns Anti-Trump Republicans They’re Going To Wind Up ‘Getting Erased’

Senator Lindsey Graham said it’s impossible for the GOP to move forward without Donald Trump as its leader, warning that those trying to “erase” the party of the former President might themselves be “getting erased.”

Graham’s comments came just before House Republicans voted on Wednesday to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from leadership for lack of party unity and consistent attacks on Trump and his supporters.

The South Carolina Republican spoke earlier this week with Fox News host Sean Hannity regarding the future of the party.

“It’s impossible for this party to move forward without President Trump being its leader, because the people who are conservatives have chosen him as their leader,” Graham stated. “And you know why they chose him? Because he delivered.”

He then began listing off several conservative victories under the Trump administration – including national security, border security, tax cuts, and pride in America.

RELATED: Mitt Romney Claims That Removing Liz Cheney From Leadership Will Cost Republicans ‘Quite A Few’ Votes

Graham: Anti-Trump Republicans Are Going to End Up Getting Erased

Senator Lindsey Graham also issued an ominous warning against anti-Trump Republicans like Liz Cheney, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).

“The most popular Republican in America—it’s not Lindsey Graham, is not Liz Cheney, it’s Donald Trump,” he told Hannity.

“To try to erase Donald Trump from the Republican party is insane,” he added. “And the people who try to erase him are going to wind up getting erased.”

Graham went on to say that conservatives are disappointed that he lost the election because they “believe that Trump’s policies worked.”

RELATED: Trump Cheers Utah GOP That Booed ‘Stone-Cold Loser’ Mitt Romney, Rips ‘Big-Shot Warmonger’ Cheney

Cheney Ousted From GOP Leadership

Graham specifically commented on the embattled Representative Cheney whose leadership role was terminated on Wednesday.

Cheney was removed for her unwillingness to unite the party and instead attack Trump at every turn.

“I’ve always liked Liz Cheney but she’s made a determination that the Republican Party can’t grow with President Trump,” he said. “I’ve determined we can’t grow without him.”

Cheney has refused to unite a Republican party that includes Trump supporters. Instead, she insults them.

She has accused Trump voters of believing “the big lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, has gone after colleagues in her own party who supported the former President, and vowed to campaign on impeaching him “every day of the week.”

In an op-ed for the Washington Post last week, Cheney encouraged Republicans not to embrace Trump’s “cult of personality.”

That is not somebody who belongs in a leadership role.

Romney, as you might imagine, disagrees.

“Every person of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie,” he asserted.

“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.'”

Trump issued a statement referring to Cheney as a “big-shot warmonger” and Romney as a “stone-cold loser.”

 

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GOP Rep: Stefanik Too Liberal To Replace Cheney, Urges GOP To Choose A Conservative

With the vote to oust Congresswoman Liz Cheney from House Republican leadership looming, one conservative House Freedom Caucus member circulated a memo to every GOP office claiming that her presumed successor, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik isn’t much different from a Democrat.

On Tuesday, Congressman Chip Roy sent a memo asking the House Republican conference to reconsider Stefanik, citing her voting record, and encouraging Republicans to choose someone more conservative.

Republican Roy Rejects Stefanik: ‘Choose Someone Who Reflects Our Conservative Values’

In his memo, Roy argues that Stefanik voted against Trump’s agenda often, siding with Democrats.

Roy asked House Republicans to instead, “choose someone who reflects our conservative values.”

“We must avoid putting in charge Republicans who campaign as Republicans but then vote for and advance the Democrats’ agenda once sworn in,” Roy wrote to his fellow GOP members.

“Therefore, with all due respect to my friend, Elise Stefanik, let us contemplate the message Republican leadership is about to send by rushing to coronate a spokesperson whose voting record embodies much of what led to the 2018 ass-kicking we received by Democrats,” Roy added.

Other Conservatives Not Happy With Stefanik Succeeding Cheney

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced on Monday that the secret ballot vote to oust Cheney from her leadership position will happen on Wednesday.

Cheney has drawn heat from Republicans for not only voting to impeach former President Donald Trump on the second impeachment vote, but for continuing to attack him in op-eds and during interviews.

McCarthy and other leaders believe Cheney has become too much of a distraction away from what the party should focused on: Winning more House seats for Republicans in 2022.

Roy is not the only conservative to complain about Stefanik’s lack of a conservative voting record.

The conservative Club for Growth said, “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.”

RELATED: OJ Simpson Defends Liz Cheney – Says She’s ‘Standing Up For The Truth’

Stefanik Has The Backing Of Republican Leadership And Trump

Roy’s memo to House Republicans highlighted several problematic Stefanik votes for conservatives, including her opposition to a border wall. 

“The forgotten men and women of this country simply want us to stand up for them,” Roy wrote. “Please tell me how we are sending a message today that we are standing up for them with a leadership-tapped colleague with that record as our spokesperson?”

Roy said that if the GOP strays from Trump’s America First Agenda it could hurt the party at the ballot box.

Trump and McCarthy, along with GOP Minority Whip Steve Scalise have all endorsed Stefanik. 

 

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‘Let’s move on’: Congress’ other pro-impeachment Republicans stay quiet

Seventeen congressional Republicans supported the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump. Unlike Liz Cheney, most of them want to move on.

Amid Cheney's ouster from House GOP leadership on Wednesday for continuing to rebut Trump’s election lies, other Republicans who deemed him guilty of inciting insurrection on Jan. 6 are taking an approach that largely spares them intra-party retribution. They stand by their anti-Trump votes and oppose Cheney’s demotion, but they're focused on strengthening their party’s message against Democratic control of Washington.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the only Senate Republican elected from a state that Trump lost in 2020, recently escaped censure by her state party for her vote to convict him and has dived into a bipartisan group negotiating on current issues. She said that President Joe Biden’s proposed expansions of government and the nation’s increasing debt “are the issues we should be talking about, rather than re-litigating the election.”

“I tend to focus on policy, not personalities. And I made my [impeachment] decision very clear by giving a long floor speech explaining it. And it’s time to move on to the challenges we’re facing,” Collins said. “Let’s move on.”

Getting past Trump and 2020 hasn’t come easily for Cheney. But as much as her fellow Republicans who crossed the former president would prefer to keep their focus on Biden, some recognize that their silence runs the risk of ceding Trump more power. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who voted to convict, said his House colleagues' Wednesday vote to evict Cheney is “going to be perceived as President Trump dictating what the House does.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) speaks during a press conference following a House Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Cheney stands nearly alone in her willingness to sacrifice her leadership spot to call out Trump’s false claims that he won the election, demonstrating how strong his sway remains over the GOP. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, while initially critical of Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 riots, has since worked hard to get back in the former president’s good graces.

The party's top two Senate leaders, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), have basically stopped talking about Trump after taking a more confrontational stance toward him in the wake of the insurrection. Asked about Trump on Tuesday, Thune said only that “I don’t think re-litigating the 2020 election is a winning strategy.”

Across the Capitol, however, Cheney hasn’t been afraid to speak her mind about Trump in interviews, op-eds and leadership press conferences — including at last month’s GOP policy retreat in Orlando. A gathering supposedly centered around party unity ended up kickstarting the campaign to push her out of power.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) speaks during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Her biggest ally among the other 16 Republicans is Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran who wears his impeachment vote like a badge of honor and constantly needles Trump and McCarthy on Twitter. Kinzinger launched an entire PAC dedicated to targeting the pro-Trump wing of his party and protecting fellow Republicans who voted to impeach. He even put together a “Rally for Liz” fundraiser ahead of Wednesday’s ouster vote.

The House’s pro-impeachment Republicans initially kept in constant contact, and nine of them banded together to criticize Speaker Nancy Pelosi as hypocritical for supporting a challenge to a contested Iowa House race. There was talk among them of teaming up on issues in the future if another opportunity presented itself.

That moment never came.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) is back to keeping her usual low profile after nearly getting hauled before the Senate as an impeachment witness. Newly elected Republicans in swing seats, such as Rep. David Valadao of California and Peter Meijer of Michigan, are staying low-key after their impeachment votes.

Rep. John Katko told local reporters he will “absolutely support” fellow New York Rep. Elise Stefanik for GOP conference chair if Cheney is removed, though he considers the Wyoming Republican a “friend.” And Rep. Tom Rice, who represents a pro-Trump district in South Carolina, has privately vented about Cheney to his colleagues, according to GOP sources.

“I'm just going to go to the meeting with an open mind and listen to what happens," said pro-impeachment Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) when asked if he would support Cheney on Wednesday. She ultimately got ousted from the conference chairmanship in a quick voice vote.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) is seen during a House Financial Services Committee oversight hearing in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) — who was recently censured by his state's GOP for his impeachment vote and is already facing a Trump-endorsed primary challenger — is another of the few party voices to come to Cheney’s defense in recent days.

But mostly, Kinzinger and Cheney are on a lonely island in the congressional GOP. The other Republicans who backed impeachment generally opt to keep their heads down, reluctant to make their votes against Trump part of their political brands — especially as they see calls for censure and pro-Trump primary challenges pile up in their districts.

The defense of Cheney is as porous in the Senate as in the House, though Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) likened silencing Cheney to “cancel culture" and she has a handful of defenders. McConnell, who supports Cheney’s re-election in Wyoming, has repeatedly dodged questions about her.

Collins called Cheney a "woman of strength and character and did what she thought was right" and said she hoped the GOP will accommodate "people with varying views on President Trump." Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who twice supported Trump’s impeachment, said he’s felt some compulsion to stick his neck out for her and worries about the message Wednesday's move will send.

“It’s important for us to stand up for people who are honorable, capable people,” Romney said in an interview. “If we want to attract more people to the party, that’s not going to work if we kick people out of leadership because we disagree with them.”

Some Republicans even argue that Cheney’s constant and high-profile rebukes of Trump are actually hurting the other members who voted to impeach, likening her behavior to picking at an old wound. Republicans have complained they’re being asked about Cheney by their constituents and donors back home.

“She seems not to be able to leave it,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), a former House member. “People draw this conclusion that she’s being thrown out of the party. She’s not. But she’s asked for and received a position of leadership that, unfortunately, requires you to give up some of your autonomy to be the face of the caucus.”

And watching the consequences that Cheney suffered gives sympathetic Republicans little incentive to speak out. One House GOP lawmaker who voted to certify the election results, granted anonymity to candidly discuss the internal fire fight, said: "This whole discussion is certainly hurting the impeachment people, because they want to move forward and talk about their agenda for 2022.”

“This keeps putting them back in [trouble] with their base back home,” this Republican added. “And so if anything, Liz is hurting the impeachment folks the most.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) walks with reporters as in the basement of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The situation is more dire for the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the president than the seven GOP senators who voted for conviction. Though all those House members must face voters next year, just Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is up in 2022 among Senate Republicans who supported Trump’s conviction.

Murkowski will certainly face an unpleasant challenge from Trump strategists who have filled out the political team of challenger Kelly Tshibaka. But Alaska’s election laws have been changed to ranked-choice voting, easing her path to reelection.

Others will sleep even easier. Romney isn’t up for reelection until 2024 and Collins, Cassidy and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) won new six-year terms in November. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) are retiring.

Burr shook his head when asked if he even thinks about Trump anymore, saying no one in North Carolina asks him about impeachment. The former Intelligence Committee chair added that it’s not even worth responding to Trump these days.

“It’s you guys that are starting the stories on Trump,” Burr told a reporter with a chuckle on Tuesday. “He got more press yesterday than the president.”

Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.

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A defiant Cheney tears into Trump, GOP: ‘We must speak the truth’

On the eve of being ousted as House GOP conference chair, a defiant Rep. Liz Cheney called Donald Trump a “threat we have never seen before” and said she refuses to peddle his lies that the election was stolen, nor should her GOP colleagues.

In what will likely be her final public stand as the No. 3 in GOP leadership, the Wyoming Republican — wearing a pin that is a replica of George Washington’s battle flag — continued to blame Trump for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riots, raised concerns about the path her party is heading, and warned that democracy and freedom are at stake. All are comments that have contributed to her imminent loss of power.

"Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” Cheney said in a floor speech Tuesday evening. “I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy."

"We must speak the truth," she added. "Our election was not stolen, and America has not failed."

Cheney also admonished Trump for provoking “a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election” and warned that “he risks inciting further violence” by continuing to push his baseless claims about voter fraud, which many of her Republican colleagues have echoed.

“Our freedom only survives if we protect it,” she said.

Cheney’s short but pointed floor speech came hours before members of the House GOP conference are expected to flock to a Wednesday meeting. At that point, her fellow Republicans will decide her fate in leadership, which many members say is all but a foregone conclusion: Cheney, the highest ranking woman in the House, will be ejected from leadership Wednesday morning, and Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York will be named her successor in the days ahead.

Cheney seems ready to accept the outcome; she has not sought to whip members to vote to protect her position. And rather than going quietly, Cheney has continued to sing her message publicly, often putting her in direct opposition with statements that GOP leader Kevin McCarthy has made.

The final straw came when Cheney split with McCarthy and other Republicans during the annual GOP policy conference late last month, which sparked the realization among members of the conference that the situation was untenable.

The talk of her ouster began to snowball over the course of a week. This time, her list of critics grew from members across the party’s spectrum, with moderates, GOP leaders, and longtime Cheney allies joining longtime Cheney critics in agreeing that it is time to remove her as conference chair.

They argue that it is not about her impeachment vote, but because her role is to message on behalf of the conference — particularly as they look to win back control of the House in 2022 — and her individual views are distracting their message of hitting the Biden administration and Democrats’ “radical socialist agenda.” Democrats, meanwhile, have latched onto the message that the party is seeking to silence Cheney because she is anti-Trump, optics of which have reverberated beyond the Capitol.

Cheney survived an attempted ouster in February after ultra-conservative members sought to remove her over her vote to impeach Trump on Jan. 6, prevailing in a 145-61 secret ballot vote. That is not expected to be the case Wednesday, though it is not clear if the vote will be by voice vote or a recorded secret ballot.

During her floor speech Tuesday evening, Cheney issued the warning that the rest of the world is watching.

“Attacks against our democratic process and the rule of law empower our adversaries and feed Communist propaganda that American democracy is a failure,” Cheney said.

In a brief moment of levity, Cheney noted that preceding GOP speakers had, ironically, just been giving speeches complaining about cancel culture.

“I have some thoughts about that,” Cheney said. “But tonight I rise to discuss freedom and our constitutional duty to protect it.”

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