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Liz Cheney removed from House GOP leadership

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Republicans oust Cheney from leadership role
Republicans oust Cheney from leadership role 02:30

Representative Liz Cheney was removed Wednesday from her leadership position among House Republicans. She was ousted as conference chair in a voice vote by House GOP members shortly after their closed-door meeting came to order, and the meeting was adjourned within 20 minutes.  

After the vote, Cheney told reporters that she "will do everything I can to make sure the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office." She faced the ouster from her leadership post for openly criticizing Mr. Trump.

"We have seen the danger that he continues to provoke with his language," Cheney said about the former president. "We have seen his lack of commitment and dedication to the Constitution, and I think it's very important that we make sure whomever we elect is somebody who will be faithful to the Constitution."

One of her allies, Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger, said the vote was swift. Kinzinger told reporters there weren't really speeches ahead of the vote, "really it was just Kevin standing up" and telling those in his GOP conference it's time to "move on."

On the eve of the vote, Cheney delivered a defiant speech on the House floor, warning her party that she "will not sit back and watch in silence" as Mr. Trump makes baseless claims that he won the election.

"This is not about policy, this is not about partisanship, this is about our duty as Americans," Cheney said. "Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. 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."

As conference chair, Cheney was the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House. In February, she was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump for inciting the mob that overran the Capitol in January in an attempt to overthrow the results of the election. 

Mr. Trump was acquitted in the Senate — where seven Republicans voted to convict him — but Cheney still faced calls to be removed from her leadership position. One of Mr. Trump's most enthusiastic allies in the House, Representative Matt Gaetz, held a rally in Cheney's home state of Wyoming against her.

In February, House Republicans held their first vote to oust Cheney, but that time, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy advised Republicans not to remove her, urging them to move past impeachment. In the secret ballot vote, just 61 Republicans voted to remove Cheney from her post, while 145 voted for her to stay. Days later, the Wyoming GOP voted to censure her.

Cheney didn't back down from her criticism of Mr. Trump. In a Washington Post op-ed, she called him "dangerous" and urged Republicans to turn away from his "anti-democratic cult of personality." That set off a torrent of criticism from within the party, with McCarthy and other members of the GOP leadership backing Trump ally Elise Stefanik to take her position.

President Biden Delivers First Address To Joint Session Of Congress
Representative Liz Cheney waits for President Biden to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol April 28, 2021 in Washington, D.C.  JONATHAN ERNST / Getty Images

Latest Updates:

 

After losing leadership role, Liz Cheney faces fight for her seat in Congress

Liz Cheney to face crowded GOP primary 06:07

After being stripped of her post as Republican conference chair, Representative Liz Cheney is facing a battle in Wyoming to keep her seat in Congress. Wyoming Public Radio news director Bob Beck joins "Red and Blue" anchor Elaine Quijano with more on how local residents are reacting and the other Republicans hoping to challenge Cheney in her home state.  

 

Analysis: Elise Stefanik makes pitch to GOP after vote to oust Liz Cheney from leadership

Liz Cheney ousted from House GOP leadership 16:31

New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik formally launched her bid to replace the newly ousted Liz Cheney as Republican conference chair. CBS News Capitol Hill producer Rebecca Kaplan, Associated Press White House reporter Zeke Miller, and Axios politics reporter Sarah Mucha join "Red and Blue" anchor Elaine Quijano with the details, and more on the White House's infrastructure meeting with the "big four" leaders of Congress.

 

McConnell says he's a "great admirer" of Cheney

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell deflected on Cheney when asked on Fox News Special Report with Bret Baier, although he did say "there is no change" in his opinion of her. While McConnell did not vote to convict the former president, he excoriated the former president in a speech on the Senate floor after Mr. Trump was acquitted.

After being pressed several times on Cheney, McConnell said he was a "great admirer" or hers and said "I stand by what I said about Liz Cheney before."

"As to who is supposed to be in leadership in the House, that's up to House Republicans," McConnell said. "And entirely our focus is on dealing with this new administration." 

Baier tried to press McConnell on his feeling on Mr. Trump, who has targeted McConnell as well since the impeachment trial. Although McConnell insisted the party is focused on the 2022 midterm elections, Baier pointed out that "since April 24 fundraising emails from Republicans have mentioned the former president 97 times on average, and more than five times today. You're saying the focus is not on the past, but you're using the former president's name, and Republicans are, to raise money for 2022?"

McConnell didn't take the bait, and instead responded that each candidate is "gonna use whatever appeal they think works to try to raise money." 

Alan He and Caroline Linton  

 

McCarthy insists ouster was about "who's best at delivering the message, that's all"

McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday night that the vote to oust Cheney was because the job of conference chair is about messaging, and Republicans believed she is not the best person to deliver the message.

"To do the conference chair job is about the messaging going forward," McCarthy said. "This has nothing to do about how somebody voted. This has nothing to do about they voted for impeachment or not, that would have been decided the last time. This is simply who's best at delivering the message, that's all."

McCarthy also welcomed challengers to replace Cheney, although he has already pledged support for Stefanik. McCarthy said "competition" is good and said the candidate forum was not held on Wednesday so people could get "into the race at any given time."

Kimberly Brown and Caroline Linton  

 

Marjorie Taylor Greene said she asked McCarthy to push back conference chair vote

Far-right Congresswoman Majorie Taylor Greene said she asked McCarthy to push back the vote to replace Cheney as conference chair, which is set to take place on Friday. "We really haven't had much time," she said. 

There was no answer when asked about McCarthy's response.

So far, Stefanik is the only candidate to replace Cheney.

By Zak Hudak
 

Stefanik says she "absolutely" has the votes to replace Cheney

Stefanik said Wednesday afternoon she "absolutely" believes she has a majority of votes to be conference chair even if someone else jumps in the race. Speaking to reporters, she cited support from Freedom Caucus, the Republican Study Committee and the more moderate Tuesday group.

Asked about her message to members of the Freedom Caucus tonight, Stefanik said, "we have a lot of support from individual members in the Freedom Caucus."

"I think it's important that the conference chair listen to all members of the conference," Stefanik said.

Stefanik did not directly confirm that she would only stay in this position through 2022, but said her "intention" and "long-term plan" had always been for committee work. A GOP aide has confirmed to CBS News that's her commitment.

By Rebecca Kaplan
 

Chip Roy says he is "not ruling anything out" in seeking Cheney's position

Congressman Chip Roy's office issued a statement on Wednesday after Cheney's ouster saying that "while not ruling anything out …  if the position must be filled, then this must be a contested race — not a coronation."

The statement from the Texas Republican's office noted that he has "never sought a position in conference leadership." 

On Tuesday, Roy sent around a memo to the House Freedom Caucus indicating he wouldn't support Stefanik. "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 said in the memo. 

By Caroline Linton
 

Republicans oust Liz Cheney from House leadership

Republicans oust Cheney from House leadership... 11:20

GOP lawmakers voted to oust Representative Liz Cheney from her position as chair of the House Republican Conference, the party's third-highest position in the House. Cheney, a staunch conservative, has repeatedly denounced Republicans' lies about the 2020 election and was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump after the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. CBSN Washington reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns and Leslie Sanchez, a CBS News political analyst and a Republican strategist, spoke with CBSN's Tanya Rivero about what this means for the Republican Party.

 

McCarthy says "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the election"

Speaking to reporters after meeting with Mr. Biden on Wednesday, McCarthy said that "nobody is questioning the legitimacy of the election" — just hours after House Republicans expelled Cheney from leadership because she said she would refuse to repeat Mr. Trump's lie that the election was stolen.

"I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with. We're sitting here with the president today," McCarthy said. However, the former president himself continues to falsely claim that the election was rigged, and there are still Republican lawmakers who refuse to acknowledge that Mr. Biden won fairly.

When McCarthy was asked if he is concerned about his future in leadership, he said "not at all. I'm looking forward to being Speaker in the next Congress."

By Grace Segers
 

Cheney to Trump team on primary fight: "Bring it on"

In a clip of an interview with NBC News that was conducted Wednesday after she was voted out of House Republican leadership, Cheney delivered a blunt message to Mr. Trump's political team as they seek to coalesce around a primary challenger to her in 2022: "Bring it on."

Cheney told "Today" show host Savannah Guthrie she views the vote by her House GOP colleagues to remove her as conference chair as the "opening salvo" in a battle for the soul of the party.

"It is a battle we have to win because it's not just about the Republican party. It's about the country," the Wyoming Republican said. 

Cheney said she intends to be a leader in the fight to restore the GOP and make clear its members "won't participate in a really dangerous effort that's under way."

By Melissa Quinn
 

WH press secretary Jen Psaki: "Disturbing" to see leader attacked for telling the truth

Psaki: "Disturbing" to see Cheney attacked fo... 01:10

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the vote ousting Congresswoman Liz Cheney "disturbing" as she has consistently rejected the baseless claims that Mr. Biden is not the legitimately-elected president.

"It's disturbing to see any leader, regardless of party, being attacked for simply speaking the truth," Psaki said during the White House press briefing. "And as the president said last week, it's hard to understand."

Psaki said the White House and Mr. Biden believes it is now up to the American people to decide who they send to Washington to represent them.

"Our belief, his belief, is that the American people will have to make their own decisions about whether the reaction by the people they elected to represent them should be embracing and elevating conspiracies and attacks on our democracy or whether it should be standing up for ideals that have been historically been owned by both Democrats and Republicans presenting the country throughout history," she added.

Psaki reiterated that dozens of federal and state court judges tossed out lawsuits raising unfounded claims of election fraud and attempting to toss out the election results. 

On January 6, she continued, "our nation's Capitol was attacked. Our democracy was attacked, and six people lost their lives."

By Melissa Quinn
 

Biden says "yes" when asked if he knows what's going on with GOP leadership

At the top of the meeting with leadership from both parties, Mr. Biden was asked by a reporter if he knows what is going with House GOP leadership. Mr. Biden appeared to say "yes" before chuckling and saying "c'mon guys." 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Pelosi says Cheney vote shows that "courage, patriotism and integrity" are "unwelcome" in GOP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lauded Cheney for her continued push for Republicans to reject Mr. Trump's baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and that Mr. Biden is not the legitimately elected president.

"Congresswoman Liz Cheney is a leader of great courage, patriotism and integrity," Pelosi, a Democrat from California, said in a statement following Republicans' vote. "Today, House Republicans declared that those values are unwelcome in the Republican Party.

The speaker said the GOP's "denial of the truth" reiterated by Cheney "is reflected in their denial of the need to seek the truth in a January 6th commission and to repair the damage of January 6th with a security supplemental immediately."

Republicans and Democrats have been at odds over an additional funding package to harden the Capitol complex in the wake of the January 6 assault, as well as the makeup and scope of a commission examining the circumstances of the attack.

"For the sake of our democracy, reasonable Republicans across the country must take back their party," Pelosi said.

By Melissa Quinn
 

Graham issues statement saying Cheney has taken a position "out of the mainstream of the Republican Party"

One of former President Trump's closest allies in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, issued a statement after Cheney's ouster praising her, but saying she "has taken a position regarding former President Trump which is out of the mainstream of the Republican Party."

"Today's decision by the House Republican Conference regarding Congresswoman Cheney was not about her vote for impeachment," Graham's statement said. "It was about her belief that President Trump should be purged from the Republican Party and those who objected to the results of the 2020 election should be disqualified from future leadership positions. As a result, the House Republican Conference has decided to move forward in a different direction."

Graham said the "biggest threat" to Republicans is not Mr. Trump but President Joe Biden's "liberal agenda" and the party needs to focus on the 2022 elections. 

By Caroline Linton
 

Durbin calls Cheney ouster "pure cowardice"

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois told CBS News' Alan He and Jack Turman that Cheney's removal by the House GOP was "pure cowardice."

Removing her by voice voice "just tells the whole story as far as I am concerned. Donald Trump owns the soul of the Republican Party," Durbin said. 

 

Freedom Caucus member says Cheney was "canceled"

Congressman Ken Buck, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said that he believed Cheney was "canceled" by House Republicans because of her views on Mr. Trump.

"Liz Cheney was canceled today for speaking her mind," the Colorado Republican told reporters after the vote to oust Cheney. He also argued that voters in 2022 would remember "that we were unwilling to stand up to a narrative that the election was stolen."

He also said that McCarthy had been "boxed in" by the party's base that supported Mr. Trump, and did not have a choice in bringing Cheney to account.

Buck said Stefanik would speak to members of the GOP conference in a forum on Wednesday night, and that he expected a final vote to occur on Friday. But he also said that he would not support Stefanik's bid.

When asked who he would prefer to support for conference chair, Buck indicated that he would prefer anyone else.

"How many members do we have? 212? Probably 211. Actually, not me. So 210," Buck joked.

By Grace Segers
 

McCarthy to head to White House after encouraging Cheney ouster

Shortly after encouraging Cheney's ouster, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is heading to the White House to meet with the president and top congressional leaders. 

As CBS News reported earlier, McCarthy said it was time to move on from Cheney ahead of the vote. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier this week she doubts the president will weigh in on Cheney's removal, as he's focused on leading the country, not fights within the GOP. 

But it remains to be seen if Cheney's removal will come up at all in the meeting with the president and the "Big Four" — McCarthy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Stefanik makes pitch to Republicans for conference chair

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York, who so far is the only member running to replace Cheney as House Republican Conference chair, made a public appeal to her fellow GOP lawmakers to support her for a spot in House leadership. 

"Today I humbly ask to earn your vote for House Republican Conference Chair to unify our message as a team and win the majority in 2022," she wrote in a letter to colleagues posted to her Twitter account.

Stefanik said she has had "hundreds" of discussions with GOP lawmakers and believes the Republican Conference is "united in our laser focus" of defeating President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's agenda.

"Our communications posture must be to go on aggressive offense every single day to break through the biased media," she told House Republicans. "Our members should be provided key messaging points to fight back against the far-left media narrative on the issues most important to our constituents."

Stefanik stressed the importance of a "unified leadership team" and outlined three goals as chair of the House Republican Conference: a "disciplined" message from leadership and House Republicans; an offensive communications posture; to empower "all our members to shine."

"I know firsthand the discipline and message it takes to fight back against the biased national media and the entire Democrat and far-left infrastructure," Stefanik wrote. "I know what it takes to flip a district and grow the Republican Party. I will work hard today and every day to listen and earn your confidence and support as House GOP Conference chair."

By Melissa Quinn
 

Trump calls Cheney a "bitter, horrible human being"

The former president issued a statement Wednesday declaring Cheney a "bitter, horrible human being." 

"She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country," the former president said. "She is a warmonger whose family stupidly pushed us into the never-ending Middle East Disaster, draining our wealth and depleting our Great Military, the worst decision in our Country's history. I look forward to soon watching her as a Paid Contributor on CNN or MSDNC!"

Even as critics of Cheney criticize her for vocally disapproving of the former president and insisting the election wasn't stolen, Mr. Trump is the one who continues to push out statements declaring the election was rigged and stolen. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Kinzinger calls it a "sad day"

Kinzinger told reporters after the swift vote to remove Cheney that his Repubican colleague "committed the only sin of being consistent and telling the truth," and said it was a "sad day" for the GOP.

"I'm all for unity. I'm all for unity and truth," he said. "Truth cannot coexist with lies. Truth cannot coexist with falsehoods. You cannot unify with that."

Kinzinger said while Cheney had "a lot" of supporters, a recorded vote was not taken. He said no speeches from rank-and-file members were delivered, but recalled that McCarthy stood up and said it was "time to move on from her," as the party needs to be unified in order to win back the majority in 2022.

The Illinois Republican stressed there are many House Republicans who are "proud" of Cheney, but some who felt "threatened" by her.

By Melissa Quinn
 

Cheney says "I will do everything I can" to ensure Trump isn't reelected

Liz Cheney speaks after ouster from leadershi... 03:06

In the wake of the conference vote to remove her from party leadership, Cheney vowed to fight to make sure Mr. Trump is not reelected president.

"I will do everything I can to ensure the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office," she told reporters after the vote. "We have seen the danger that he continues to provoke with his language. We have seen his lack of commitment and dedication to the Constitution, and I think it's very important that we make sure whomever we elect is somebody who will be faithful to the Constitution."

Cheney said she reiterated to her colleagues ahead of the vote her commitment to making sure the Republican Party moves forward "based on truth." 

"We cannot both embrace the 'big lie' and embrace the Constitution," she said, referencing  Mr. Trump's falsehoods that the election was stolen. "And going forward, the nation needs it, the nation needs a strong Republican Party. The nation needs a party that is based upon fundamental principles of conservatism."

The Wyoming Republican said the vote is indicative of where the GOP stands today.

"We cannot be dragged backward by the very dangerous lies of a former president," Cheney said.

By Melissa Quinn
 

Cheney booed after her speech

House GOP removes Liz Cheney from leadership 16:38

Cheney was booed after her brief speech ahead of the vote, according to sources in the room.  

Someone then asked for Cheney to receive a round of applause for her leadership and she did. McCarthy called for the voice vote for the sake of "unity." 

By Rebecca Kaplan
 

Kinzinger says McCarthy told members it was time to move on from Cheney

Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger, a vocal critic of the former president and a strong supporter of Cheney, said the vote was swift.

Asked how much support Cheney had, Kinzinger responded, "I think there were a lot, but we ended up going by voice vote."

A voice vote means there was no tallied, recorded vote. 

Kinzinger said there weren't really speeches ahead of the vote, "really it was just Kevin standing up" and telling those in his GOP conference it's time to "move on." 

Kinzinger said he doesn't blame voters for thinking the election was stolen, because their leaders have pushed those lies. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Ahead of vote, Kinzinger defended Cheney

Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, tweeted early Wednesday morning to offer a defense of Cheney ahead of the House GOP's vote to remove her from leadership, arguing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy came to Mr. Trump's defense to help a future bid for speaker.

In a string of tweets, Kinzinger reiterated that both Cheney and McCarthy both blamed Mr. Trump for the January 6 assault on the Capitol, but noted the California Republican's desire to lead the House if Republicans win back the majority.

"He made the determination that if he appeased the Trump crowd, he could raise money and take the credit, when he was up for speaker," Kinzinger tweeted. "So he changed his tune and made the trek to Mar-A-Lago, in essence reviving the former Guy. He also (wrongly) assumes that people like me will vote for him for speaker, but the legislative terrorists in the freedom club wouldn't, so he needs to be all in with them. It's the cynical play that gives politicians the reputation we have."

Kinzinger, who has been a vocal ally of Cheney, said McCarthy crowned Mr. Trump as the leader of the party "despite Trump being a loser and a choke artist as evident by our loss of all leg branches and presidency." McCarthy, Kinzinger continued, "went on offense" against Cheney because he was "threatened."

"As a Christian, I have read the words of Christ many times," he continued. "Nowhere have I seen him say or imply that it's ok to lie, so long as you own the Libs.  I believe our open lies are an absolute abdication of our duty, and it is shameful."

Kinzinger said the party is solidifying its position "as a once honorable party that was marred by lies."

By Melissa Quinn
 

Cheney removed by voice vote

Cheney has been removed by a voice vote, meaning individual votes weren't recorded. 

Candidates who want to replace her must declare by Wednesday. There is a forum to meet with them on Thursday and an election will be held Friday. The meeting has adjourned.

By Rebecca Kaplan
 

Trump issues statement ahead of vote

Former President Trump issued a statement Wednesday morning saying Republicans have a "great opportunity" to "rid themselves of a poor leader, a major Democrat talking point, a warmonger, and a person with absolutely no personality or heart."

"As a representative of the Great State of Wyoming, Liz Cheney is bad for our Country and bad for herself. Almost everyone in the Republican Party, including 90% of Wyoming, looks forward to her ouster—and that includes me!" Mr. Trump's statement said.

Cheney is facing the ouster from her leadership position because she voted to impeach Mr. Trump and then wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post saying he is no longer the leader of the party. 

By Caroline Linton
 

Political analyst on vote to oust Cheney from House GOP leadership

Breaking down the bid to oust Rep. Liz Cheney... 04:23

CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss the House Republicans' vote to oust Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney from her GOP leadership position. 

 

Trump adviser tweets "get it out of your system, short-timer!"

Trump adviser Jason Miller retweeted a CBS News clip of Cheney's speech on Tuesday night with the comment "get it out your system, short-timer!"

By Caroline Linton
 

Cheney vows to continue to fight Trump claims

Cheney speaks on eve of vote 06:43

In a speech on the House floor Tuesday night, Cheney was emphatic that "the election is over." 

"Today we face a threat, America has never seen before," Cheney said. "A former president, who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol, in an effort to steal the election has resumed his aggressive efforts to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him."

Cheney urged her fellow Republicans that they must "speak the truth" because "millions of Americans have been misled by the former president. They have heard only his words and not the truth."

Cheney said she "will not sit back and watch in silence" amid his baseless claims. 

"This is not about policy, this is not about partisanship, this is about our duty as Americans," Cheney said. "Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. 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."

By Caroline Linton
 

Candidate forum planned for Thursday

A source familiar with the GOP's plans confirms that, should Cheney be removed, there will be a candidate forum for potential replacements for the conference chair position on Thursday, with an election on Friday. 

At present, the only candidate who is running to replace Cheney is Stefanik.

By Rebecca Kaplan
 

Republican who voted to impeach Trump speaks at a virtual rally in support of Cheney

GOP Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who also voted to impeach Mr. Trump, on Tuesday night spoke at a virtual rally held by a pro-Cheney group. While Kinzinger didn't say how he thought the vote could go, he said "we'll see what happens with Liz tomorrow but I'll tell you this much, she is at peace."

He repeated his comments from earlier this week that Cheney is being removed for being "consistent." "Liz's honesty has made it uncomfortable for members of Congress who would just love to have this whole thing go away," he said about the January 6 attack on the Capitol. 

While arguing that Republicans need to "take back conservatism," Kinziger also said Cheney "made a very brave decision which back in the day used to not be brave, it was just called leading right which we we're all supposed to do."

Zachary Hudak and Caroline Linton  

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