Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming has been quietly reaching out to GOP House members aiming to lock down their support amid the push to oust her from her leadership spot by defenders of former President Donald Trump, explaining her vote to impeach Trump and listening to concerns they may have.
The move, according to a number of GOP lawmakers, is aimed at heading off an effort by Trump defenders seeking to remove her from her spot as the No. 3 Republican in House leadership. The fight could come to a boil when the House GOP Conference gathers Wednesday afternoon for a regular meeting — but one that is now expected to focus on the votes of the 10 Republicans who supported impeachment and also the fate of the controversial freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Cheney appears to be shoring up Republican backing in the aftermath of her vote, GOP lawmakers said.
“Obviously, a lot of members have wanted to talk to her after the vote,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican. “She’s been very open and has been listening — that’s what you want a leader to do — reach out and listen.”
Rep. Tom Reed of New York said he had spoken with Cheney and noted that he’s willing to defend her during the conference meeting.
“So I told her that I will be a voice to say, ‘Hey, guys, you know we don’t purge our fellow members. That is not something we do. We are, as Republicans, we are a family, we air our differences, we settle it in the conference chamber just like I do with my loving older brothers and sisters, and we come out of it united.'”
But the Trump defenders who are seeking to oust Cheney plan to make their case that she should be removed from her spot because she doesn’t represent the views of Republicans and shouldn’t serve as conference chairwoman — in the aftermath of a vote as crucial as impeaching a President from their own party.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who is seeking Cheney’s ouster, said “don’t know” when asked if he had the backing to boot her from her job.
Cheney has also gotten support from prominent Republicans in the Senate and outside of Washington. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina became the latest high-profile GOP elected official to defend Cheney earlier Tuesday.
“I believe @RepLizCheney is one of the strongest and most reliable conservative voices in the Republican Party. She is a fiscal and social conservative, and no one works harder to ensure that our military is well prepared,” Graham wrote in a pair of consecutive tweets on Tuesday morning, adding her experience and leadership are “invaluable to the Republican Party.”
Graham’s comments come one day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement to CNN that Cheney, who as conference chairwoman is the No. 3 House Republican, had “the courage” to act on her convictions in the aftermath of her vote to impeach Trump last month on a charge he incited the deadly insurrection that ransacked Capitol Hill on January 6.
“Liz Cheney is a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them,” McConnell said. “She is an important leader in our party and in our nation. I am grateful for her service and look forward to continuing to work with her on the crucial issues facing our nation.”
The signs of support are significant as Republicans chart their future with Trump out of office but still actively influencing GOP members of Congress. The former president is focusing his political energy on targeting Cheney. According to one source, Trump has repeatedly questioned his Republican allies about efforts to remove Cheney from her leadership position and run a primary candidate against her. He has also been showing those allies a poll commissioned by his Save America PAC that purports to show that Cheney’s impeachment vote has damaged her standing in Wyoming, even urging them to talk about the poll on television.
McConnell’s statement defending Cheney is more of a full-throated defense than the one offered by House Republican leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, who said he backs Cheney but said she would have to answer to their conference for her vote.
“Look, I support her, but I also have concerns,” McCarthy said last month, days before he jaunted down to South Florida to visit the former President and claimed the two were united in attempting to take back the House next year.
McCarthy and Trump met last week at the former president’s resort Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Tuesday.