WASHINGTON – No. 3 House Republican Liz Cheney was clinging to her post Wednesday as party leaders lined up behind an heir apparent, signaling that fallout over her clashes with former President Donald Trump was becoming too much for her to overcome.
Unbowed, she implored her GOP colleagues to pry themselves from a Trump “cult of personality," declaring that the party and even American democracy were at stake. “History is watching,” she said.
Trump issued a statement giving his “COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement” to Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to replace Cheney. Stefanik, a 36-year-old Trump loyalist who’s played an increasingly visible role within the GOP, responded quickly, highlighting his backing to colleagues who will decide her political future.
“Thank you President Trump for your 100% support for House GOP Conference Chair. We are unified and focused on FIRING PELOSI & WINNING in 2022!” she tweeted.
The day's events left the careers of Cheney and Stefanik seemingly racing in opposite directions, as if to contrast the fates awaiting Trump critics and backers in today's GOP.
The turmoil also raised questions about whether the price for political survival in the party entails standing by a former president who keeps up his false narrative about a fraudulent 2020 election and whose supporters stormed the Capitol just four months ago in an attempt to disrupt the formal certification of Joe Biden's victory.
Cheney showed no signs of backing off in an opinion essay posted Wednesday by The Washington Post.
She denounced the “dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality,” and warned her fellow Republicans against embracing or ignoring his statements “for fundraising and political purposes.”