PHOENIX - Some high-profile Republicans in Arizona are speaking out, after the woman who was once the highest-ranking female Republican lawmaker in the U.S. Congress was ousted from her leadership position.
Rep. Liz Cheney, who is Wyoming's sole Congresswoman, was stripped of her position as the Chair of the House Republican Conference on May 12. Although she easily survived a similar threat of removal in February, she’d fallen out of favor with her Republican colleagues with her public criticism of former President Donald Trump for falsely claiming the 2020 election was stolen from him.
"We must go forward based on truth. We cannot both embrace ‘the big lie’ and embrace the Constitution," Rep. Cheney said following the vote to remove her from leadership. "And going forward, the nation needs a strong Republican Party. The nation needs a party that is based upon fundamental principles of conservatism."
Even though Trump’s fraud claims have been disproven by state and federal election officials many times over, many of Cheney’s fellow Republicans have legitimized them. Several GOP-held state legislatures have passed new voter laws built around alleged fraud.
Cheney has blamed Trump’s false claims for inciting the violent pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. She was one of a handful of Republicans to vote in favor of Trump’s second impeachment for inciting the riot.
Rep. Cheney is expected to be replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. Once a Trump critic in her own right, Stefanik grew to embrace him much like the rest of the party.
Cheney said she doesn’t feel betrayed by Wednesday’s vote. She said it’s an indication of where the party is and where she wants to bring it back from — even if it means working against any future Trump White House bid.
"I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the oval office," Cheney vowed. "We have seen the danger that he continues to provoke with his language. We have seen his lack of commitment and dedication to the Constitution. And I think it’s very important to make sure whomever we elect is somebody who will be faithful to the Constitution."
Most of Arizona's GOP congressional delegation remain silent
After the vote to oust Rep. Cheney took place, FOX 10 reached out to Arizona's four Republican house lawmakers. While Reps. Paul Gosar and David Schweikert did not respond, and officials with Rep. Debbie Lesko's office said she was not available to comment, and did not say how she voted.
Meanwhile, Rep. Andy Biggs posted on Twitter, saying, in part, that Rep. Cheney "continually put personal vendettas over the American people, and was no longer in step with GOP leadership. I'm glad my colleagues agreed."
Ex-Arizona Congressman says vote is harmful to GOP
Jeff Flake, who at different times served as an Arizona Congressman and Senator, said the vote on May 12 was damaging.
"They demoted a leader who was telling the truth," said Flake.
Flake went on to say the vote is detrimental to the Republican Party.
"It’s tremendously detrimental to the party. We chose to go along with the big lie, rather than confront the fact that we lost the last election as a party," said Flake. "If we are going to pick up constituencies, we need to be successful in the future, particularly in the suburbs and some groups like millennials. We can’t pretend we really won the last election."
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