US congresswoman Liz Cheney hit back at her critics on Wednesday as the Republican push to remove her from a leadership position took a major step forward.
The daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney holds the Republican Party's third-highest position in the House of Representatives and but faces a backlash from colleagues for speaking out against Donald Trump's role in the January 6 insurrection and his false claims of fraud in the 2020 election.
Ms Cheney said such claims were poisoning American democracy, and in an opinion piece on Wednesday, she said Republicans must now ask themselves whether they will "join Trump’s crusade to delegitimise and undo the legal outcome of the 2020 election, with all the consequences that might have".
"While embracing or ignoring Trump's statements might seem attractive to some for fund-raising and political purposes, that approach will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country," she wrote in the Washington Post.
Ms Cheney called for Republican support of the ongoing criminal investigations by the Justice Department into the deadly January 6 riots at the US Capitol. She urged members of her party to “support a parallel bipartisan review by a commission with subpoena power to seek and find facts” about what took place that day. Mr Trump was impeached for his role in inciting those riots.
Mr Trump earlier on Wednesday called Ms Cheney a "warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party leadership".
Minority whip Steve Scalise, the No 2 House Republican, meanwhile endorsed a vote that could mean Elise Stefanik replaces Ms Cheney as soon as next week.
That came a day after House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said Ms Cheney's repeated criticism of Mr Trump's falsehoods were distracting Republican messaging.
Republican infighting led to two camps hammering it out on news networks and in newspaper op-eds, with those backing Ms Cheney saying she could lose her leadership role simply for repeating the truth about the November 3 election.
A seemingly bemused President Joe Biden said "I don't understand the Republicans", as he left a Washington restaurant to collect Mexican food for the Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
He later told reporters at the White House that the Republicans faced a "mini-revolution" over their party's identity.
"Republicans are farther away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point," Mr Biden said.
Mr Scalise said that he backed Ms Cheney's removal because "House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and President Biden's radical socialist agenda".
He joined Mr McCarthy in backing Ms Stefanik of New York, an ally of Mr Trump.
The vote could come as early as May 12, CNN reported, but it may only deepen the Republican Party rift.
Several high-ranking Republican senators, including Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, defended Ms Cheney's right to express her views.
In her op-ed, Ms Cheney said: "Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work – confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this."
Despite policy disagreements, Ms Cheney has a cordial relationship with Mr Trump's successor.
After expressing his confusion at the Republican battle over Ms Cheney's future, Mr Biden told reporters what else he had on his plate.
"Tacos and some enchiladas," he said when asked what he had ordered from the immigrant-owned Las Gemelas restaurant.
The Washingtonian reported Mr Biden ordered four tacos: pork al pastor, beef barbacoa, lengua (tongue) and carnitas. He also brought back to the White House a homemade green chorizo and a mushroom quesadilla.