Democrats name-checked House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney at least 18 times during the debate on the article of impeachment against President Trump for inciting insurrection on Wednesday – emphasizing the high-ranking Republican’s support for impeaching Trump after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week.
“On Jan. 6, 2021, a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes. This insurrection caused injury, death and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic,” Cheney, R-Wyo., said in a statement announcing her intention to vote to impeach Trump.
She was eventually one of 10 Republicans to vote that way as Trump became the only president to ever be impeached twice.
“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing,” Cheney continued. “None of this would have happened without the president. The president could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
As top Democrats lobbied on the House floor to maximize the bipartisan support for their article of impeachment, they cited Cheney over and over while looking at their Republican colleagues. Meanwhile, some of the most staunchly pro-Trump House Republicans slammed Cheney as others defended the top Republican, who is seen as a potential future speaker of the House.
House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., was the first to reference Cheney, asking that her statement be placed in the Congressional Record as debate on the rules for impeachment got underway. He named her at least once.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., was the next to reference Cheney – he did so at least 14 times on the House floor Wednesday.
“This attack was not from abroad,” Hoyer said. “It was, as Liz Cheney said, summoned, assembled and inflamed by the president of the United States of America.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who will be the lead impeachment manager when the matter goes to trial in the Senate, also mentioned Cheney at least three times.
“Cheney says there’s never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Raskin said. “Read Ms. Cheney’s statement. Let’s come together and impeach the president for this high crime against the republic. We don’t have a minute to spare. He is a clear and present danger to the people.”
Cheney herself did not speak on the House floor Wednesday.
Cheney’s move to back impeachment angered some of the president’s most vocal allies in the House – most notably House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who said Cheney should resign as the GOP conference chair.
Jordan was joined by a handful of other Republicans, including House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. Gosar and Biggs are among the GOP representatives who are distancing themselves from an organizer of the rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 after the organizer credited them in a Dec. 28 video as co-architects of the event.
Those members were joined by freshman Reps. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., and Bob Good., R-Va.
Good, who has already earned a reputation as a firebrand after denying that the coronavirus is a pandemic in an interview with Fox News – then at a pro-Trump rally – specifically noted Democrats’ Cheney references in his statement calling for her to resign.
“Her decision to impeach the president does not represent the majority of our conference. It has only served to become a Democrat talking point to be used against our party during this impeachment debate,” Good said. “Leadership is a privilege and carries great responsibility. I believe that privilege has been violated, and I am calling for her to step down as Republican Conference chair.”
But many other House Republicans backed Cheney, including those who did not vote to impeach Trump. A spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told Fox News he does not support efforts to oust her as the GOP conference chair. McCarthy opposed impeaching Trump but said the president was partially responsible for the carnage at the Capitol last week during his Wednesday floor speech.
“Let’s get some truth on the record: @Liz_Cheney has a hell of a lot more backbone than most, & is a principled leader with a fierce intellect,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, who voted against impeaching Trump, said. “She will continue to be a much needed leader in the conference, with my full support. We can disagree without tearing eachother (sic) apart.”
Added Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis.: “Make no mistake: @RepLizCheney is a principled leader and we are lucky to have her in our conference. She has my full support.”
“Congressman Buck does not support the Freedom Caucus letter calling for the removal of Rep. Cheney,” a spokeswoman for Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., a prominent member of the Freedom Caucus, told Fox News on Thursday.
A number of other Republicans who did not back impeachment have voiced their support for Cheney in recent hours, including multiple members of the House Freedom Caucus. And Reps. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., John Katko, R-N.Y., and Peter Meijer, R-Mich., who voted for impeachment, have supported Cheney as well.
Cheney responded to calls for her resignation by saying, “I’m not going anywhere… This is a vote of conscience. It’s one where there are different views in our conference.” That quote was first reported by Politico.
Indecision from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and public quibbling between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have made the next steps on the impeachment trial in the Senate unclear.
But Schumer made very clear he intends to hold the trial once he becomes majority leader if McConnell does not initiate it on his own in the coming days. And It’s widely expected that at least some Senate Republicans will vote to convict Trump. McConnell has even left the door open to voting to convict Trump himself.
“While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” he said in a note to GOP colleagues Wednesday.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.