“I won’t apologize for the vote,” the number three House Republican in leadership told her colleagues on Wednesday at a closed-door meeting of the entire House Republican Conference, multiple congressional sources told Fox News.
Cheney is under fire from numerous House Republicans loyal to Trump over her vote three weeks ago to impeach the then-president on a count of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters. Cheney was the most senior of 10 Republicans who joined all 222 House Democrats to impeach Trump, with 197 GOP representatives voting against impeachment.
On the eve of the impeachment vote, the three-term congresswoman from Wyoming said that Trump “summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.” She stressed that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
A major topic of the meeting, which is on-going, is a push to strip Cheney of her position as House Republican Conference Chair.
But sources tell Fox News that House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who had given Cheney tepid support in recent days, spelled out at the meeting that he supports keeping Cheney in her leadership position.
During a break in the meeting to allow the GOP representatives to vote, Cheney told reporters the meeting “is going very well.”
Heading into the gathering, the anti-Cheney ringleaders said that more than half of all House Republicans would back a potential resolution to stripping her of her position.
One of those ringleaders, Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, was expected to say at the meeting that “you cannot have unity in this conference without trust and we do not have trust in the current conference chair.”
Criticizing Cheney for her vote, Rosendale was also expected to emphasize that she “has shown neither remorse nor apologized for her actions.”
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a top Trump ally, said on Fox News’ “America Reports” minutes before the start of the meeting that Cheney was the wrong person for the job. “You can’t have the leader of, the spokesperson of your conference … whose job is to talk to the American people about the Republican position, taking a position on one of the biggest votes we ever have in the United States Congress that’s against 96% of the conference that she’s supposed to represent,” he said.
Fox News reporting heading into the meeting was that a vote on stripping Cheney of her leadership position was not expected.
However, if a resolution is presented at the meeting, a two-thirds vote would be needed to suspend the meeting’s rules and force a vote. If the vote fails, the resolution would be referred to a committee within the House Republican Conference. That committee could then rule on the resolution favorably, bringing it back to the full conference for a vote at a later date, or they could rule on it unfavorably, which would essentially kill the move to strip Cheney of her leadership role.
Two sources told Fox News on Wednesday that Cheney, during the meeting, asked her colleagues for a vote.
Cheney, who’s followed in the footsteps of her father – former Vice President Dick Cheney – in advocating for a hawkish and muscular U.S. role overseas, was a vocal critic of Trump’s “America First” policies of limiting the use of American troops in international conflicts.
Last week the former president’s political action committee, Save America, released a poll that suggested that Cheney was politically wounded among Republicans by her vote to impeach Trump. The survey was showcased the next day as Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a vocal Trump ally, took aim at Cheney at a large rally on the steps of the Wyoming Capitol.
Gaetz told the crowd that he had spoken with Trump and said the former president wanted to him to share the poll results. “Liz Cheney is less popular among Republicans in her own state than Muammar Gaddafi was among the Libyans,” Gaetz cracked.
At least two Republicans in Wyoming have announced primary challenges against Cheney when she’s up for re-election next year.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Tuesday tweeted that “I believe @RepLizCheney is one of the strongest and most reliable conservative voices in the Republican Party. She is a fiscal and social conservative, and no one works harder to ensure that our military is well prepared.”
“Liz Cheney is a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them,” McConnell said in a rare comment on House GOP business. “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.”
Fox News’ Kelly Phares, Chad Pergram and Tyler Olson contributed to this report
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