Challenger hits Liz Cheney, says GOP must work with Trump


WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Elise Stefanik stated her case Thursday for replacing Rep. Liz Cheney as the No. 3 House Republican leader, implicitly lambasting Cheney’s battles with former President Donald Trump by saying, “We are one team and that means working with the president.”

The remarks by Stefanik, R-N. Y., a one-time moderate who’s evolved into an ardent Trump champion, came as Cheney seems likely to be tossed from her leadership post next week. Cheney, R-Wyo., has repeatedly rejected Trump’s false insistence that he lost the 2020 election because of widespread fraud, and has blamed him for inflaming followers who assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Speaking on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, Stefanik said she is committed to “sending a clear message that we are one team and that means working with the president and working with all of our excellent Republican members of Congress.” Stefanik repeatedly used “president” in referring to Trump.

Facing opposition from Trump and the House’s two top Republicans — Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise — Cheney has remained defiant.

In an opinion essay in The Washington Post, Cheney implored her GOP colleagues on Wednesday to pry themselves from a Trump “cult of personality” and declared that the party and even American democracy were at stake. “History is watching,” she said.

Trump issued a statement giving his “COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement” to Stefanik, 36, who’s played an increasingly visible role within the GOP.

Stefanik responded quickly, highlighting his backing to colleagues who will decide her political future.

“Thank you President Trump for your 100% support for House GOP Conference Chair. We are unified and focused on FIRING PELOSI & WINNING in 2022!” she tweeted.

The careers of Cheney and Stefanik are seemingly racing in opposite directions, as if to contrast the fates awaiting Trump critics and backers in today’s GOP.

The turmoil also raised questions about whether the price for political survival in the party entails standing by a former president who keeps up his false narrative about a fraudulent 2020 election and whose supporters stormed the Capitol just four months ago in an attempt to disrupt the formal certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

In her essay, Cheney denounced the “dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality,” and warned her fellow Republicans against embracing or ignoring his statements “for fundraising and political purposes.”

She said McCarthy has “changed his story” after initially saying Trump “bears responsibility” for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. McCarthy, who is tacitly backing the drive to oust her, has said Trump issued a video to try halting the violence.

Dozens of state and local officials and judges from both parties have found no evidence to support Trump’s assertions that he was cheated out of an election victory.

Cheney, in the Post, agreed with Democrats that a bipartisan investigation should focus solely on the riot… (Read more)