House Republicans ousted Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership post on a voice vote Wednesday for her continuing criticism of President Donald Trump’s false election claims and his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol.
Two of Utah’s House members backed the effort, one didn’t attend the vote, and the other didn’t want to see her go.
Freshman Rep. Blake Moore voted against stripping Cheney, R-Wyo., of her title as House Republican Conference chair.
“I have remained vocal and consistent on the importance of election integrity, and I will continue to prioritize this issue by showcasing Utah’s inclusive and secure process. I believe and have previously communicated that President [Joe] Biden won the election. It is our duty to accept that result, even as we double down on our efforts to oppose this administration’s out-of-control spending,” Moore said in a statement before Wednesday’s closed-door vote. “For the sake of the country, House Republicans must continue to push back on these policies and communicate our positive message for the future.”
Moore expressed support for the whole House leadership team, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who led the effort to remove Cheney. Moore said House Republicans “won big in 2020 due in part to the broad appeal, diversity and unique strengths of leaders across the Republican Party.”
Now that Cheney is out, Moore will get behind the consensus candidate to lead the Republican conference, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who has become a strong Trump supporter.
Curtis said he voted to remove Cheney to eliminate a distraction, not because he disagreed with her about the election.
“I have encouraged my colleagues to speak out against any false narratives around the election, recognize Joe Biden as the duly elected president, and begin working with him to better America. I want to make it absolutely clear that the facts and my stance on the election have not changed,” Curtis said after the vote. “I am frustrated that disagreements within the Republican conference have dominated conversations at a time when we should be focusing on the border crisis, rising inflation, Hamas’ attacks on Israel, and other issues impacting Americans today.”
Reps. Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens voted against certifying the electoral votes from Pennsylvania on Jan. 6, after the riots. None of Utah’s House members supported the second impeachment of Trump for his role in inspiring the insurrection attempt.
Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who did vote for impeachment.
Stewart voted to remove Cheney on Wednesday, saying: “Members of Congress have a right, and a duty, to speak their minds in representing their constituents. But, a member of leadership has even greater duties. The Republican conference chair is responsible for galvanizing and guiding our party back to the majority. That means focusing on creating the future America needs — one that stresses the dignity of work, individual freedom over government dependence, and the principle of equal opportunity for all to rise.”
Owens didn’t attend Wednesday’s caucus. He was at a funeral. While he did not indicate how he would have voted, he released a statement saying, “The Republican Party is the party of solutions, and our leadership should reflect that.”
Cheney defended herself during the caucus meeting and kept up her criticism of Trump.
“If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy,” Cheney told her Republican colleagues according to The Washington Post. “But I promise you this: After today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism, to defending our republic, to making the GOP worthy again of being the party of Lincoln.”
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, wouldn’t weigh in Wednesday, saying he doesn’t comment on House leadership elections.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has sent tweets over the past week, showing his support for Cheney. Romney voted against Trump in the impeachment process that followed the Jan. 6 riots.
On Monday, Romney said, “expelling Liz Cheney from leadership won’t gain the GOP one additional voter, but it will cost us quite a few.”
After Cheney’s removal, Romney told reporters, “The best future for democracy, as well as for my party, is if we stand by the truth and we welcome people who have different points of view. I happen to agree with Congresswoman Cheney — I think she is a woman of character and integrity, and I respect her.”