GOP Rep. Liz Cheney on Sunday doubled down in opposing the direction her party is headed following Donald Trump’s election defeat, as other congressional Republicans, including the congresswoman who replaced her in House leadership, said it’s time to move on from intraparty politics.
The Wyoming Republican in a round of television interviews that aired Sunday morning – just days after House Republicans voted to remove her as the GOP conference chair – took aim at both House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Elise Stefanik, the New York Republican and Trump loyalist who was chosen to replace Cheney in her No. 3 House leadership post.
“I think it’s very dangerous. I think that we have to recognize how quickly things can unravel. We have to recognize what it means for the nation to have a former President who has not conceded, and who continues to suggest that our electoral system cannot function, cannot do the will of the people,” Cheney told ABC News when asked what it means that Stefanik, who had the backing of Trump, was picked to replace her.
Pressed on whether she meant Stefanik’s ascension in leadership could mean that the events of January 6 could happen again, Cheney said: “I think there’s no question. We’ve now seen the consequences. We’ve seen how far President Trump was willing to go. We’ve seen not only his provocation of the attack, but his refusal to send help when it was needed.”
Cheney, apparently emboldened by the House conference’s decision to punish her for repeatedly calling out Trump’s election lies and role in inciting the deadly Capitol insurrection, signaled Sunday that she would continue to push her colleagues to take a clear stance on the direction of the party as a divide deepens in the GOP. But top Republicans, seeking to win congressional majorities in next year’s midterm elections, haven’t tempered their defense of the former President’s influence over party politics.
“I am firmly committed to being part of leading this party back to a place where we believe and advocate on behalf of policies and substance,” Cheney said in an interview on Sunday with Fox News, in which she also accused McCarthy and Stefanik of being complicit in the former President’s election lies.
But in a separate interview with the network, Stefanik tore into her predecessor, saying Cheney “is looking backwards, and Republicans are looking forward.” Trump, the New York congressman said, is “an important voice in the Republican Party.”
“He’s critical to the party. He’s the leader of the Republican Party,” she said. “Voters determine the leader of the Republican Party and they continue to look to President Trump for his vision and he’s going to be important part of us winning the back the House in 2022.”
The split in the party played out in dueling interviews Sunday, with Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Republican from Texas, defending the caucus’ decision to oust Cheney from her post and arguing it’s time to move on from the drama surrounding it.
“We can keep having that fight if we’d like, but what is the point and what is the outcome when in reality we need to be talking about the things that American people actually care about,” Crenshaw told NBC News.
But his colleague, Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, told the same network in an interview on Sunday that the GOP cannot move beyond the 2020 election and the Capitol insurrection as long as Trump continues to advance false claims of election fraud and Republican leadership continues to empower him.
“You can’t say (Trump) is the leader and then say ‘we have to move on.’ I would love to move on,” Kinzinger said, defending Cheney by saying she “simply answered questions that the election wasn’t stolen.”
Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a moderate Republican, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday that his party made a mistake by punishing Cheney last week.
“I’ve said that this is a four-year battle for the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve got another election coming up next year in 2022. You know, I think it was a mistake. Liz Cheney is a solid conservative Republican … and to ostracize somebody, remove them from their leadership position, is crazy,” he said.
CNN’s Aaron Pellish, Nicky Robertson and Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.