The removal of Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney from her role as the third-ranking Republican in House leadership happened quickly on Wednesday morning. Less than a half hour after House Republicans convened, Cheney had been removed by voice vote.
But Republicans won’t be so easily rid of Cheney. While she’s no longer a member of elected leadership, something she said in a speech on the House floor on Tuesday night will continue to haunt her party as it attempts to appeal to voters across the nation over the next 18 months.
“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” Cheney said. (Worth noting: She said it to a nearly empty House chamber, as her colleagues were apparently disinterested in her words.)
Cue the liar – following Cheney’s ouster on Wednesday morning.
“Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being,” said former President Donald Trump in a statement released moments after the vote. “I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party. She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country.”
(Sidebar: CNN’s Annie Grayer reported that Cheney was booed for comments critical of Trump in the GOP conference meeting just before she was removed.)
That single, simple line from Cheney – that when we ignore the lie, the liar gets more bold – could well be the epitaph for whatever strain of the Republican Party exists outside the cult of personality that has arisen around Trump and swallowed the GOP (almost) whole over the last five years.
(As I have noted many times before, Cheney is both more conservative and more in line with Trump’s policies than the woman expected to replace her, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik.)
Because what Republicans did on Wednesday morning is get rid of someone whose only crime – such as it is – was to say that the 2020 election was won fair and square by President Joe Biden, and that Trump’s continued insistence to the contrary runs counter to both facts and the Constitution.
And in so doing, they cemented the idea – through their unwillingness to speak the truth about the election – that Trump’s ridiculous claims about election fraud are valid.
This is a lie. Plain and simple.
Don’t believe me?
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” said William Barr, attorney general in the Trump administration late last year.
In testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday, former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen is expected to say this:
“During my tenure, DOJ maintained the position publicly announced previously that the Department had been presented with no evidence of widespread voter fraud at a scale sufficient to change the outcome of the 2020 election, that it would not participate in any campaign’s or political party’s legal challenges to the certification of the Electoral College votes, and that there would be an orderly and peaceful transfer of power under the Constitution.”
Trump and his legal team filed dozens of cases – in state and federal courts – alleging widespread voter fraud. They won not a single significant victory. The Supreme Court rejected a suit to overturn the Pennsylvania results and a broader effort led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that aimed to invalidate votes in several key swing states that went for Biden.
There’s simply no “there” there. All that’s left at this point is Trump sending his daily rants about some obscure “news” story being touted by conservative media that he believes somehow validates his conspiracy theory. The latest came Monday: “The major Michigan Election Fraud case has just filed a bombshell pleading claiming votes were intentionally switched from President Trump to Joe Biden. The number of votes is MASSIVE and determinative. This will prove true in numerous other States.” (Here are the facts on the case Trump is referencing.)
Trump will, rightly, view the removal of Cheney as a victory for him – and for this totally debunked idea that he was cheated out of a victory in 2020.
With the ouster of Cheney, every single House Republican who raised their voice to do the deed now owns this same lie. Because they did something worse than sit silently by while Trump blabbed about it to anyone who would listen. On Wednesday, they affirmed the lie and the liar. And they will now spend the next 18 months (or more) reaping what they have sown.