US Republicans fire Liz Cheney from leadership role after Trump criticism

Congresswoman punished for rebuking former president's false claims of election fraud and his role in fomenting the Capitol attack

Republicans in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday ousted congresswoman Liz Cheney from the third-highest leadership role in the chamber after she repeatedly rebuked former president Donald Trump over his false claims of election fraud and his role in fomenting the January 6 Capitol attack.

Meeting behind closed doors for less than 20 minutes, Republicans used a voice vote to remove Ms Cheney, a jarring turnabout to her fast-rising career within the party.

After her removal from the conference chair, a role responsible for conveying the Republican Party's messaging, Ms Cheney, who represents Wyoming, told reporters she would do everything she could “to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office".

“We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the constitution,” Ms Cheney said.

“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.”

Ms Cheney was Congress’s highest-ranking Republican woman and is the daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney. Her demotion was the latest evidence that challenging Mr Trump can be career-threatening.

Ms Cheney on Tuesday spoke to a nearly empty House chamber to deliver an unapologetic four-minute assault on her Republican adversaries and defence of her own position.

“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” she said. “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.”

In response to Ms Cheney's speech, Mr Trump took to his new blog to call her a "bitter, horrible human being" and a "warmonger" who is "bad for the Republican Party".

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, called Ms Cheney a leader of "great courage, patriotism and integrity."

"Today, House Republicans declared that those values are unwelcome in the Republican party," Ms Pelosi said in a statement.

Ms Cheney’s replacement was widely expected to be congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York, who entered the House in 2015 at age 30, at the time the youngest woman yet elected to Congress.

While Ms Stefanik embraces Mr Trump’s false claims of mass voter fraud in the 2020 election, she is more ideologically centrist than Ms Cheney – a staunch neoconservative and proponent of robust US military interventions.

Ms Cheney was one of the few Republicans to join Democrats in voting to impeach Mr Trump in January on charges of inciting the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Updated: May 12, 2021 10:56 PM

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