WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Representative Liz Cheney broke with the majority of her fellow Republicans in laying blame squarely on President Donald Trump for the deadly riot that Americans watched unfold in the U.S. Capitol a week ago. And she has no qualms about it.
“I’m not going anywhere,” the three-term congresswoman proclaimed to reporters after some back-bench Republicans angrily demanded on Wednesday that she be fired from her position as the No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives.
She was one of ten Republicans -- and the highest ranking -- to vote to impeach Trump a second time in the chamber that lawmakers fled last week when a mob of Trump supporters angry about his false claims of election fraud ransacked the Capitol.
The move made her the most senior Republican to formally break with Trump following his November election defeat. Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who last week rejected Trump’s two-month campaign claiming election fraud, said he would decide whether to vote to impeach at Trump’s trial.
A rising star in the party, the vote would be a indelible mark on Cheney’s resume, for good or ill, in any future leadership battle. The top House Republican, Kevin McCarthy, declined or ignored reporters’ questions about Cheney’s move on Wednesday.
As the House debated whether to impeach Trump, Cheney explained that her beef with the president was not merely around a difference of opinion over legislation.
The impeachment resolution, she said, was “a vote of conscience” during a crisis not seen since the U.S. Civil War.
House Democrats were spearheading an impeachment that charges Trump of inciting insurrection, no small accusation.
Republican Representative Andy Biggs, a Trump ally, nonetheless sought retribution against the leader of the House Republican Caucus, a position that her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, once held when he served in Congress.
“She should not be serving this conference. That’s it. This is crap,” Biggs told reporters.
Newly-minted Representative Matt Rosendale, also a Republican, joined Biggs, saying, “She is weakening our conference at a key moment for personal political gain and is unfit to lead.”
Meanwhile, Cheney was winning praise from opposition Democrats, something that is not exactly a prized possession at a time of unheralded partisanship in Congress.
“I think Liz Cheney is a person of principle who knows a lot about government ... I would say she’s a very conservative Republican, but she’s also a person of principle,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Washington politicians have a reputation for sometimes hedging their stances and their comments so as to not offend any constituents back home who may have varying opinions.
But Cheney, from the deeply Republican state of Wyoming, had no such hesitation in announcing her intention on Tuesday to vote for Trump’s impeachment.
“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” said Cheney who won re-election last November with a solid 68.7 percent of the vote.
And in case there was any uncertainty over her position, she added, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell
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