Trump takes victory lap as Cheney ousted from House leadership

Former President Donald Trump took a victory lap Wednesday morning after House Republicans ousted Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., from leadership.

"Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being," Trump wrote. "I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party. She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our country."

"She is a warmonger whose family stupidly pushed us into the never-ending Middle East disaster, draining our wealth and depleting our great military, the worst decision in our country’s history," he added. "I look forward to soon watching her as a paid contributor on CNN or MSDNC!"

Cheney departed the House Republican meeting on Wednesday and immediately vowed to work to keep Trump for being re-elected if he runs for president again. She told fellow lawmakers that he is trying to damage American democracy.

Trump rose to power in the Republican Party by leveling personal and extreme attacks on his opponents within the party, frequently using name-calling to build support for his presidential bid.

In a statement before the House GOP met Wednesday, Trump said Republicans had a "great opportunity" to demote Cheney, adding he was looking forward to her ouster.

Other Trump-aligned members gleefully reacted to Cheney's removal.

"Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye Liz Cheney," tweeted Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C.

The move to oust Cheney from the House GOP's No. 3 position is seen as further cementing the party in Trump's image even with the former president out of power after his loss last fall. A speedy vote was supposed to take place via secret ballot — like the one Cheney won overwhelmingly in February — but instead was conducted by a voice measure, meaning it will be impossible to know how many in the caucus supported her removal versus keeping her as conference chair.

Republicans in leadership and in the party's rank-and-file have expressed displeasure with Cheney, who is tasked with running the House GOP's messaging apparatus, for continuing to push back on Trump's falsehoods about last fall's election, which have only increased in recent weeks.

Speaking to members in the conference meeting Wednesday, Cheney said, "We cannot let the former president drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy."

"Down that path lies our destruction, and potentially the destruction of our country," she added, according to a source in the room. "If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person. You have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy."

After the meeting, Cheney told reporters that she "will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office."

"We have seen the danger that he continues to provoke with his language," she said. "We have seen his lack of commitment and dedication to the Constitution, and I think it's very important that we make sure whomever we elect is somebody who will be faithful to the Constitution."

Asked if she felt betrayed by the vote Wednesday, Cheney said she did not believe it was an indication of where the GOP stands. In a House floor speech Tuesday night, Cheney said, "Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar." She also pointed out that Trump's claims that the election was stolen failed to advance in the judiciary while his own Justice Department found no evidence to support them.

"I will not participate in that," she said. "I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president's crusade to undermine our democracy."

Cheney, the highest-ranking House Republican to vote to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, has repeatedly rejected Trump's claims of a stolen election. Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, have criticized her for re-litigating the past, even as Trump continued to release more than 20 statements falsely claiming that the election was "rigged" or "stolen" and that he "won by a landslide," among other assertions, in the past six weeks.

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