Senate Republicans expressed dismay over the House GOP’s vote to remove Rep. Liz Cheney leadership, which is seen as a worrisome sign of former President Trump’s continued grip on the party as he jockeys to play a major role in the 2022 congressional elections and flirts with running for president again in 2024, The Hill writes.
Several members of the Senate GOP leadership as well as several other prominent GOP senators expressed dismay over Cheney’s fate on Wednesday, shortly after the House fired her from the leadership ranks on a voice vote.
“I hope that Republicans will continue to be the party that values to free speech and doesn’t give in to group think. People ought to be able to speak their minds. To me, it’s about speaking the truth and the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune said.
Unlike House Republican leaders, Senate GOP leaders led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have firmly rejected Trump’s baseless claims that Biden won the presidential election because of widespread fraud.
Cheney, who was eyeing a run for Senate in 2013 and again in 2019,was stripped of her leadership post for saying much the same. But she went further earlier this month by criticizing colleagues who perpetuated what she called “the big lie.”
“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system,” she said on May 3.
Cheney’s critics said her criticism of Trump’s false claims distracted from party messaging opposing Democrats and Biden’s agenda. Cheney rejected House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s contention that Republicans must refrain from criticizing Trump to win back control of Congress in 2022.
Many GOP senators, however, are keeping quiet about their concern. Sen. Joni Ernst, who serves in the Senate GOP leadership as vice chair of the Republican Conference, wasn’t eager to talk about what happened to Cheney.
“It’s House business. I think a lot of folks anticipated it. That was up to them to call that vote and do that,” she said when first asked about the vote to demote Cheney, but added she believes in Cheney’s right to speak her mind.