The tide turned more sharply against Rep. Liz Cheney on Wednesday with the No. 2 House Republican publicly calling for her ouster from her post over her continuing criticism of former President Trump. Rep. Steve Scalise, the House GOP whip, said via a statement that he's in favor of New York GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik taking over Cheney's post. From the statement, per the AP: "House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker Pelosi and President 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 [House Republican] Conference chair." More:
- Axios calls the endorsement "a new escalation in House Republicans' internal feud over Cheney" and observes that "the rift has threatened to derail Republicans' chances of taking back control of the House in the 2022 elections."
- The AP notes that Stefanik, 36, is a big Trump backer, and one who now flies above the rest of the pack of potential replacements for Cheney thanks to the Scalise endorsement. But Axios cites data from FiveThirtyEight that shows Cheney voted in line with Trump's positions 92.9% of the time, to Stefanik's 77.7%.
- The Hill reports there are gender politics at play in the decision to remove and replace Cheney, the highest-ranking woman in the GOP leadership and the sole woman on Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's leadership team. "It's an awkward reality for a party vying to win back female suburban voters in next year's midterm elections, at a time when there are fewer than three dozen women in the 212-strong GOP conference," observes the Hill. Replacing her with Stefanik or another woman would mitigate some of that.
- Kicking Cheney out of her No. 3 post would require two-thirds of the 212 House Republicans voting in favor to do so, and the process could begin as soon as next Wednesday. Fox News notes that in a secret February ballot, she cleared that 145 to 61. "That showed she had more rank-and-file support than the public battle would have suggested," it observes, "but the animosity level has risen."
- The view of Stephen Collinson at CNN: "In the Hunger Games that is the House Republican Conference, Cheney was effectively pushed by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who made the opposite choice regarding fealty to Trump. ... McCarthy's trip to visit Trump at Mar-a-Lago weeks after the mob attack sent a clear signal that he sees the route to recapturing the House next year going through millions of Trump's voters."
- The Wall Street Journal editorial board observes that "the better part of political prudence would be for Ms. Cheney to ignore Mr. Trump"—but that's easier said than done, as "Trump won’t ignore her. He issued four statements on Monday and three of the four were attacks on fellow Republicans, including one on Ms. Cheney. She may be ousted because she is daring to tell the truth to GOP voters—and at personal political risk."
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