Rep. Liz Cheney was stripped of her House Republican leadership role in a fast conference meeting Wednesday morning, after she repeatedly called out former president Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 election.
Cheney was defiant as she walked out of the meeting, which took only 15 minutes and a voice vote.
"I will do everything I can to ensure the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office," she told reporters.
Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol. She has repeatedly and publicly blamed him for the riots and rejected Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election being stolen with a bluntness that is almost unheard of in the Republican conference.
The move to oust Cheney from her role as the House Republican conference chair became inevitable over the last several days. The Wyoming Republican survived a February attempt to remove her from leadership, but in the weeks since, as she continued to speak out against Trump's lies about a stolen election, Republican leaders publicly soured on her.
"I've had it with her," House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy was caught saying on a hot mic last week.
Cheney's relationship with her party publicly turned during a Republican retreat in Florida last month, when she continued to talk about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and Trump's role in it.
Trump celebrated Cheney's removal in an emailed statement to reporters, calling her a "bitter, horrible human being."
Moments after the vote, Cheney spoke to reporters and again denounced Trump’s conspiracy theories as “the very dangerous lies of a former president.”
"We must go forward based on truth," Cheney said. "We cannot both embrace the big lie and the Constitution."
The vote shows the overwhelming influence that Trump, voted out of office and stripped of his social media accounts, still has over the Republican Party. Members insisted that they were not voting to remove Cheney because of her impeachment vote or acceptance of the election results, but rather because her repeated reairing of past controversies was giving the party a black eye.
"You can't have a conference chair who recites Democrat talking points," close Trump ally Rep. Jim Jordan told reporters after the vote.
Others weren’t buying it.
“What happened today was sad. Liz committed the only sin of being consistent and telling the truth. The truth is the election was not stolen,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who also voted to impeach Trump. “There’s a lot of people that are proud of her for what she’s done, and a lot of people that feel threatened by her, and that’s their decision.”
Rep. Elise Stefanik is expected to be voted in as the new number three Republican in party leadership. Formerly known as an upstate New York moderate, Stefanik rebranded herself as an unwavering Trump ally. During his impeachment trial in January, Stefanik was one of the central voices arguing that the former president was innocent of inciting the mob.
Stefanik is getting backlash from many Republicans who argue that she is not hardline enough. “I think she’s a liberal,” said Rep. Ken Buck, who did not support removing Cheney.
But Stefanik has the support of both Trump and McCarthy, making her ascendancy more or less certain. “I don’t think there would be anybody that wants to risk a future chairmanship or future role in the party to take on Elise Stefanik,” said Buck.