The second most powerful House Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise, and former President Donald Trump are backing Rep. Elise Stefanik to replace Rep. Liz Cheney in House GOP leadership.
It’s the most telling sign yet the Wyoming lawmaker’s position as the No. 3 House Republican is in peril after she repeatedly criticized Trump’s claims of fraud in the 2020 election.
GOP lawmakers are scheduled to meet behind closed doors May 12 on Capitol Hill, where Cheney’s fate could be sealed as a growing number of her colleagues are looking to boot her as conference chair, the third most powerful GOP post.
Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La, second in power only to GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who came out Wednesday after he reportedly told Trump on a recent telephone call that Cheney would be on her way out soon, to publicly back Stefanik, R-N.Y., to replace Cheney as House Republican Conference chair.
“House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and President (Joe) Biden’s radical socialist agenda, and Elise Stefanik is strongly committed to doing that, which is why Whip Scalise has pledged to support her for Conference Chair,” Scalise spokeswoman Lauren Fine said in a statement emailed to USA TODAY.
Trump issued a statement Wednesday through his Save America PAC in which he slammed Cheney as a “warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership” and threw his support behind Stefanik.
“We want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again movement, and prioritize the values of America First,” the former president said.
Cheney angered many of her GOP colleagues in January when she not only voted to impeach Trump on a charge he incited the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol but also but publicly called the former president out for his unfounded claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent.
She has also angered many Republican voters and Influencers that are saying Cheney, Romney, Murkowski, Burr, Cassidy, Collins, Sasse, Toomey, and other politicians like them are RINO’s (Republican in Name Only), and are deep in the D.C. swamp they are intent on draining.
The possible ouster of Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, represents continued tension in the GOP between two distinct camps: those loyal to Trump and his voter fraud claims, and the aforementioned RINO’S who reject the former president.