Colorado’s Republican U.S. House delegation was split Wednesday morning as their caucus voted to remove Liz Cheney from her leadership position after she voted to impeach former President Donald Trump and repeatedly lambasted him for falsely claiming the 2020 election was fraudulent.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, told reporters after the voice vote that he didn’t support the move by his colleagues to oust Cheney, a Wyoming Republican.
“Liz Cheney was canceled today for speaking her mind,” Buck said, according to a pool report.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Garfield County Republican, took a different stance. A spokesman said Boebert voted in support of the motion to oust Cheney as GOP conference chair.
“Rep. Cheney took her eye off the prize and was more focused on tearing down conservative leaders than she was advancing the conservative agenda,” the spokesman said in explaining Boebert’s position.
A spokeswoman for Colorado’s third Republican member of the U.S. House, Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, did not say how he voted.
“Liz Cheney is a strong conservative and has been a crucial voice for national security,” Lamborn said in a written statement. “Today’s vote was not about her impeachment vote, it was about the direction and future of the Republican conference and supporting the will of our voters. The outcry of the left-wing media is only a blatant attempt to drive a wedge in the Republican party. We will move forward together and take back the House in 2022.”
Cheney was removed from her post during a closed-door meeting that lasted less than 20 minutes. The outcome wasn’t a surprise, though it’s the latest evidence that challenging Trump can be career-threatening.
Cheney, a Colorado College graduate and a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was Congress’ highest-ranking Republican woman. Her removal marks a jarring turnabout to what’s been her fast rise within the GOP.
Cheney has refused to stop repudiating Trump and defiantly signaled after the meeting that she intended to use her removal to try pointing the party away from him.
“I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office,” she told reporters.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and No. 2 GOP leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana all aligned against Cheney. GOP lawmakers complained that Cheney’s offense wasn’t her view of Trump but her persistence in publicly expressing it, undermining the unity they want party leaders to display in advance of next year’s elections, when they hope to win House control.
Even so, stripping Cheney, 54, of her leadership job stood as a striking, perhaps defining moment for the GOP.
One of the nation’s two major parties was in effect declaring an extraordinary requirement for admission to its highest ranks: fealty to, or at least silence about, Trump’s lie that he lost his November reelection bid due to widespread fraud. In states around the country, officials and judges of both parties found no evidence to support Trump’s claims that extensive illegalities caused his defeat.
Cheney’s replacement was widely expected to be Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who entered the House in 2015 at age 30, then the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Stefanik owns a more moderate voting record than Cheney but has evolved into a vigorous Trump defender who’s echoed some of his unfounded claims about widespread election cheating.
It was initially unclear when the separate vote on Cheney’s replacement would occur.
Buck, the former chairman of the Colorado GOP, told reporters that he doesn’t support Stefanik becoming conference chair, according to the pool report.
Asked about Stefanik, Buck said: “I think she’s a liberal.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.