WASHINGTON – Minnesota's four House Republicans avoided weighing in on the political fate of Rep. Liz Cheney amid a movement to try to oust the critic of former President Donald Trump from her leadership post.
Cheney was one of only 10 House GOP members who voted to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and Trump's repeated false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
The Wyoming Republican has continued to challenge the former president since then, reflecting a stark divide on the future of the party following the tumultuous end to Trump's presidency. But if Cheney loses her post as the third ranking House Republican member, her removal would serve as the latest sign that despite vocal critics within the party, Trump is still the centerpiece of the GOP months after leaving office.
"The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution," Cheney wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday.
The discord among Cheney and others in her party comes as Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, the fourth ranking House Republican who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee, is trying to guide his party back into the majority with wins in the 2022 midterms.
Even after a spokesperson for Rep. Steve Scalise, the House's second ranking Republican, made clear Wednesday the Louisiana Republican supports replacing Cheney in leadership with New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, neither the NRCC nor a spokesperson for Emmer directly addressed questions about Cheney.
"As NRCC Chairman, I am solely focused on retaking the majority and firing Nancy Pelosi. House Republicans are united in that effort," Emmer said in a statement sent by the House GOP's campaign arm.
The House GOP's tensions with Cheney come during a fraught span of months for congressional Republicans following the 2020 presidential election.
Minnesota GOP Reps. Pete Stauber, Jim Hagedorn and Emmer joined a list of 126 House Republicans in backing a failed December lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general that aimed to invalidate 62 Electoral College votes for now-President Joe Biden. The lawsuit, which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up, came before newly elected Rep. Michelle Fischbach took office.
Then in the hours after the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Minnesota Republican delegation split on certifying Biden's election victory, with Hagedorn and Fischbach objecting to the certification, while Emmer and Stauber voted against the GOP block. Later that same month, none of Minnesota's four House Republicans voted to impeach the president for his actions on that violent day.
A spokesperson for Fischbach declined to comment about Cheney, while Hagedorn and Stauber did not respond to requests for comment.
Some Minnesota Democrats say the dispute among Republicans over Cheney shows how far the GOP is willing to go to back Trump's election fraud claims. Rep. Dean Phillips said it sends a message "that as it stands right now, the Republican conference is one that requires the promotion of a lie to be a leader."
Cheney was initially able to maintain her role as House Republican Conference chairwoman despite her impeachment vote. But her continued criticism of Trump has cut into her support from Republican colleagues.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was heard saying on audio obtained and reported by Axios on Tuesday that when it came to Cheney, "I've lost confidence."
Trump has continued to show major support among Republicans even after leaving office, and he has singled out Cheney as he's attacked members of his party who supported his impeachment earlier this year. After Trump baselessly declared on Monday that "the Fraudulent" 2020 presidential election should be described "as THE BIG LIE!", Cheney pushed back on Twitter.
"The 2020 presidential election was not stolen," Cheney tweeted. "Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system."
Staff writer Stephen Montemayor contributed to this report