WASHINGTON — Two House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump condemned what they called a transformation of their party from one of principles to absolute loyalty to the former president, even as a newly-installed member of GOP leadership reiterated her party’s support of the former president.
The differing views of the GOP from within the party itself pointed to the lasting fragmenting of the party after the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, with lawmakers supporting Donald Trump consolidating power.
Days after being ousted from her position as GOP conference chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump remains “a continuing danger to our [democratic] system,” arguing that the most Trump voters “have been misled, they’ve been betrayed” by the former president’s frequent repeating of falsehoods and conspiracy theories.
Cheney added that she believes House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., her replacement as conference chair, are “complicit” in spreading misinformation that undermined American democracy.
“I think that, as a party, we really do have to say ‘What do we stand for, what do we believe in?’,” Cheney said on ABC News’s “This Week”, adding that both parties “have to stop incentivizing vitriol, we have to stop incentivizing people to show up here and to think the goal is to be a social media star.”
Cheney was one of 10 Republicans in the House who voted to impeach Donald Trump in January. Also in that small group was Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.,a frequent Trump critic in the wake of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, who excoriated his party on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
“Policy doesn’t matter anymore. It literally is all your loyalty to Donald Trump. As I’ve said before, this is something that, like, echoes a little bit out of North Korea, where no matter what policy comes out, you’re loyal to the guy,” Kinzinger said.
Cheney was removed from her leadership position in the GOP over her continued condemnations of Trump’s conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. While she comfortably defeated a February vote of no-confidence, her continued opposition to Trump earned her scorn from some of her colleagues.
Shortly after being removed from her leadership position, Cheney declared that she would do “whatever it takes” to stop Trump from retaking the White House in a future election and help reorient the Republican Party into a party less centered on his persona.
The scion of a conservative political dynasty, Cheney’s ejection underscores the party’s transformation into a party motivated less by policy so much as personalityand grievance.
Republican voters and lawmakers still overwhelmingly support the president, a loyalty that has only increased since President Joe Biden has taken office. Many Republicans, believing they cannot properly challenge Biden and the Democrats without first purging their party, are now focusing on becoming a unified opposition.
A CBS News poll released Sunday found that 80% of registered Republicans who had heard about the vote to remove Cheney from leadership approved of the decision.
But on Fox News on Sunday, Rep. Stefanik accused Cheney of “looking backwards,” and repeated that Trump remained an important part of the GOP.
“We are unified and we are talking about conservative principles,” she said. “President Trump is an important voice in the Republican Party. We are working as one team.”
Follow Matthew Brown online @mrbownsir.
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