Cheney has faced calls to resign from her post as House GOP conference chair since she and nine other Republicans crossed party lines to impeach Trump. McConnell, R-Ky., is the most prominent GOP leader to date to rally to Cheney’s defense.
“Liz Cheney is a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them,” McConnell said in a statement. “She is an important leader in our party and in our nation. I am grateful for her service and look forward to continuing to work with her on the crucial issues facing our nation.”
McConnell has not ruled out voting to convict Trump on the impeachment charge.
Cheney publicly condemned Trump after his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as congressional lawmakers met to confirm President Biden’s election victory. In a blistering statement explaining her reasons for voting to impeach Trump, Cheney said the former president “assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack” by spreading unfounded theories that the election was stolen.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., cited Cheney’s remarks on the House floor while delivering the Democrats’ closing argument to impeach.
The Wyoming Republican’s stance drew rebukes from hardline conservatives and her own state party, who said Cheney’s vote triggered “anger and frustration” within the GOP. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a prominent Trump ally, has called for Cheney to be ousted in a primary in her next election cycle.
Cheney has remained firm in her decision.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Cheney told reporters in January. “This is a vote of conscience.”
The House impeached Trump on a single charge of incitement of insurrection. The Senate is scheduled to convene an impeachment trial next week, marking the first of its kind for a former president.
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