Cheney has repeatedly pushed back on Trump’s baseless assertions that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election. She was one of only 10 Republicans to vote to impeach the former president for “incitement of insurrection” after the deadly riot at the Capitol on January 6.
“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen,” Cheney tweeted on Monday. “Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”
Cheney’s remarks were in response to Trump, who said in a written statement on Monday, “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!”
Cheney’s outspoken criticism of Trump has led to some House Republicans to accuse her of dividing the conference and distracting from the party’s goals. Some have recently warned that Cheney could face a vote to oust her from her spot in the House Republican in leadership, although Cheney survived a similar test earlier this year.
House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has the power to call for that vote, but it’s unclear if he will do that as soon as next week, according to multiple House GOP sources.
But multiple Republican lawmakers and aides say that Cheney is on very shaky ground internally and whether she can hang on to her post in a secret-ballot election is highly uncertain.
When Cheney easily survived a bid to oust her in February, McCarthy came to her defense and called on the House GOP Conference to keep her in the spot in a speech delivered behind closed doors.
This time, however, could be different. A House GOP source who has been in contact with McCarthy said the GOP leader has been “furious” at her for weeks amid her comments about Trump. A House Republican lawmaker, who voted to keep Cheney in her post in February, said after speaking with many of his colleagues, it’s clear that Cheney has “less (support) than she thinks” within the House GOP conference.
If Cheney were to be ousted, it’s unknown who would replace her. There are several Republicans viewed as potential candidates for the No. 3 job, including Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York and Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana.
Banks, who chairs the influential Republican Study Committee, told CNN he hopes “we can avoid” a vote to oust Cheney. But he made clear his displeasure with her.
“I would like to see my friend Liz join the focus and share the mission to regain the majority,” said Banks.
“She seems very, very focused on the past and tearing down other Republicans like myself,” Banks added, referring in part to her criticism of a memo he authored to take back the House majority.
The conference meets in full for the first time next week. At that point, McCarthy can call for a vote if he chooses to do so. If McCarthy doesn’t go that route, then there are special procedures in place to ultimately force another vote, but those steps can take weeks to play out.
In January, a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in a deluded effort to overturn the 2020 election as Congress certified the vote. While nearly the entire House GOP conference voted to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial, Cheney blamed the riot — and the death of five people — directly on him, saying he “summoned,” “assembled” and “lit the flame of this attack.”
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Cheney said.
Cheney’s vote to impeach Trump sparked a backlash among the House Republican conference and in Wyoming, which Trump won in 2020 with nearly 70% of the vote, the most of any state in the country. Cheney has also faced criticism after leaning in to greet President Joe Biden last week, as he made his way down the aisle for his speech to a joint session of Congress.But Cheney appears to be uninterested in backing away from her views, despite the intraparty pressure in Washington and primary challengers lining up to take her on in Wyoming. Cheney has recently opened the door to running for president in 2024 and blasted colleagues in the Senate who supported efforts to challenge the election results on January 6.In February, Cheney overwhelmingly kept her leadership position in a secret ballot vote 145-61 — but some Republicans have grown increasingly irritated that she continues to publicly attack Trump.Last week, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked if Cheney was still a good fit for leadership. He declined to endorse her, instead saying Cheney’s future would be determined by the conference.
This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.
CNN’s Lauren Fox contributed to this report.
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