House Republicans ready vote on Trump critic Cheney's leadership post: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are expected to try to remove Liz Cheney from their party leadership for denouncing former President Donald Trump's false claim the election was stolen from him, said two Republican congressional sources.

One of the sources said they could vote as early as Wednesday, their next scheduled meeting after a two-week break.

The No. 3 House Republican and the 54-year-old daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, she survived a similar rebellion early in the year.

Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting a deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The then-Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said her criticism of Trump's false election claim had become a distraction from party messaging against Democratic President Joe Biden, who defeated Trump in November and took office in January.

"There's no concern about how she voted on impeachment," McCarthy told Fox News. "It's more concern about the job ability ... and what's our best step forward that we can all work together instead of attacking one another."

Prior to the interview, McCarthy was caught on microphone saying he had "lost confidence" in Cheney, Axios reported. It released audio of the recording.

A Cheney spokesman replied to McCarthy's interview with his own statement: "This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on Jan 6. Liz will not do that. That is the issue."

Neither McCarthy's nor Cheney's offices responded to queries about the expected vote to remove her from leadership.

Several Republicans have been floated as a possible replacement for Cheney, should she lose her position, among them New York Republican Elise Stefanik, who gained prominence for her defense of Trump at impeachment hearings ahead of his first impeachment in 2019.

Trump this week lashed out at Cheney in a statement after she said, without naming him, that anyone who claimed the 2020 election had been stolen was "poisoning our democratic system."

The expected House Republican Conference vote is only the latest skirmish in a Republican civil war between Trump supporters and those who worry that his repeated false election claims could undermine their ability to reclaim control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.

Cheney, of Wyoming, survived a February party conference ballot with 145 caucus members voting to keep her in her role and 61 calling for her removal.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Susan Heavey; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)

05/04/2021 21:57

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