“The conference should vote on it,” Representative Jim Jordan (Ohio), co-founder of the arch-conservative caucus, told Capitol Hill on Wednesday. “We should have a second vote.” Cheney was unanimously re-elected to her post in November.
The resolution obtained by POLITICO states that Cheney’s position “does not reflect that of the majority in the Republican Conference and has brought the Conference into disrepute and produced discord.”
Cheney, however, made it clear that she had no intention of leaving voluntarily.
“I’m not going anywhere. It’s a vote of conscience,” she told POLITICO on Capitol Hill. “This is an issue where there are different points of view in our conference. But our nation is facing a constitutional crisis unprecedented since the Civil War.
“This is what we need to focus on,” she added. “This is where our efforts and our attention should be.”
Meanwhile, GOP Representative John Katko from New York – who also voted for impeachment – began circulating a letter on Wednesday expressing support for Cheney and rejecting calls for his resignation, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO.
The retreat of the party’s right flank underscores how supporting Trump’s withdrawal can still be a politically toxic move in the GOP, even after he incites a violent mob to storm Capitol Hill. In addition to being condemned by their colleagues, Republicans who vote for impeachment could also face major pro-Trump challenges.
Besides Cheney and Katko, eight other Republicans voted on Wednesday to impeach Trump: Representatives Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Dan Newhouse of Washington, David Valadao of California, Tom Rice of Carolina. South, Anthony Gonzalez from Ohio and Peter Meijer from Michigan.
Still, Cheney told her colleagues she wanted to be on the right side of history and presented it as a “vote of conscience” in private conversations, sources say.
Cheney, who is the highest ranking Republican to publicly support impeachment, released a statement on Tuesday explaining his support for Trump’s impeachment, saying he “called this crowd, gathered the crowd and lit the flame of this attack On the US Capitol last week.
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” she said.
Cheney’s position puts her directly at odds with Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) And Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) – who are both opposed to impeachment – and creates a dramatic break in the leadership of the GOP.
Some in the GOP conference are frustrated with all of its leaders.
“I think when Kevin and Steve argued an unconstitutional election challenge, and when [Liz Cheney] argues a constitutionally flawed indictment, we have leadership issues, ”Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told reporters.
McCarthy declined to answer reporters’ questions on Wednesday as to whether he thinks Cheney deserves to remain in charge. But a hip House Republican, who is not a member of the Freedom Caucus and does not want Cheney to step down, has predicted that the majority of the GOP conference will support his departure from the leadership.
Cheney’s allies, however, expect her to stay safe and also argue that it would be a bad idea for the GOP to punish Cheney and not Trump.
Other Republicans came to Cheney’s defense on Wednesday, including first-year Rep Nancy Mace. The South Carolina Republican is not voting to impeach Trump, but she has criticized the President and his GOP colleagues for their role in the crisis.
“We shouldn’t silence the voices of dissent,” Mace said. “That’s one of the reasons we’re in this business today, is that we’ve allowed QAnon’s conspiracy theorists to guide us.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) also rejected calls for Cheney’s resignation, even though they differed over impeachment. “Liz should be commended, not condemned, for standing up for the Constitution and staying true to her beliefs,” he said.
And Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) tweeted that Cheney “has a lot more backbone than most” and “will continue to be an indispensable leader at the conference, with my full support.”
“We can disagree without tearing ourselves apart,” he added.
In addition to supporting impeachment, Cheney also angered some of his colleagues for taking such a public stand against challenging the election results ahead of the January 6 vote, even sending out a 21-page note explaining why to oppose the election. President-elect Joe Biden’s victory would be unconstitutional. More than 120 House Republicans ended up joining the objections.
The same Republicans who backed the president’s baseless election fraud allegations, which fueled the murderous siege on Capitol Hill, are now leading the charge against Cheney. But some of those lawmakers are now facing calls for censorship, resignation, or investigation for their own roles.
The episode is just the latest chapter in the ongoing clash between Cheney and the right wing of the House GOP conference. While Cheney has long pushed Trump away on foreign policy and national security issues, extremists began to turn against her last summer when she criticized Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and also backed a main opponent of the representing Thomas Massie (R-Ky.).
At the time, some conservatives even discussed recruiting someone to challenge her for the presidency of the conference, but that never materialized; Cheney was selected unanimously in November for another two-year term at the helm.
But some Republicans have regretted not forcing a recorded vote after issuing a statement calling on Trump to respect the “sanctity” of the election if he cannot prove his allegations of voter fraud in court. The Freedom Caucus, a group of around 30 conservative extremists, is a key electoral bloc in the House GOP, although their power has diminished in the minority.
“She shouldn’t be serving this conference,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) Said. “That’s it.”
Ben Leonard and Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.