In interviews with CNN, two Republican lawmakers told CNN that Cheney’s comments this week again opened up old wounds within the GOP conference, forcing members to question again if she was the best person in the world. as a leader. As CNN has previously reported, there is no indication that anything will come of the frustration. The party is still more interested in moving on than focusing on trying to oust Cheney. But members who spoke to CNN on condition of speaking freely about the tensions said they believed Cheney was not speaking for the conference.
“It’s like, ‘hey, if you want the job, there’s a responsibility that goes with it,'” a GOP lawmaker told CNN. “It’s a tough time for elephants and so it’s a complication that comes from within, which frankly isn’t helpful in any way, shape or form.
The person added “you only got two letters and it’s just ME or US.”
In large part, Cheney’s comments this week were fueled by a series of interviews and questions she received about the events of January 6 and how McCarthy, a Californian Republican, played down the role of l former Trump in the attack, but his comments once again revealed tensions. within the GOP that is unlikely to go away given that Cheney is not going to back down on his view that for the Republican Party to be successful in 2024, it has to go beyond Trump.
Another GOP lawmaker told CNN the frustration was even more palpable this time around.
“It is real and much more widespread than before and entirely on its own initiative,” the lawmaker said. “At this point, it has nothing to do with his vote and everything to do with his words and actions.”
Two House Republicans who have backed Cheney to stay in his leadership position believe the conference could vote again to oust him amid the fallout from his comments on Trump when he retired from the party earlier this week.
And anyone can guess how that might turn out, given that this is a secret ballot.
A senior House Republican, who has backed Cheney in the past, has predicted to CNN that she could be “in very big trouble” and is standing on shaky ground to remain No. 3 in the House Republican Conference. “Members of all stripes were truly upset, she trampled everywhere on the message and the unity that we otherwise had in retirement.”
The source said that while it is “not clear” when such a vote to oust her would take place, he predicted that a vote is “inevitable” and that this time she could in fact lose. Another member agreed that a vote seems likely. A third House Republican who backed her in the last vote says she has “less support than she thinks.”
“The only thing she has going for her are reasonable members like me who have lost confidence in her but fear the bad press and the disruption it will cause,” said the first lawmaker.
That lawmaker said there was simmering tension between Cheney and McCarthy, who the source said had been “furious” with her for weeks. McCarthy’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
“He literally saved her last time, and she doesn’t even recognize him,” the source said, referring to the speech the GOP leader gave in February at the closed-door conference in favor of Cheney.
One of the problems facing the leaders is the question of who would replace her in third place.
Several sources tell CNN that GOP leaders feel they can’t replace her with a man. One person whose sources say she could fill the role is New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, but she is likely unwilling to step in as she is reportedly considering a race to challenge Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Cheney also faces a backlash in Wyoming instigated by the former president, who won his state last year with nearly 70 percent of the vote, the most of any state in the country.
After Cheney voted to impeach Trump, claiming he had “summoned”, “assembled” and “ignited the flame of this attack,” the Wyoming Republican Party censored her and said “there is has not had a time during our tenure where we saw this type of outcry from our fellow Republicans. State Senator Anthony Bouchard and State Representative Chuck Gray launched campaigns against her, and Political Operation Trump commissioned a poll claiming the impeachment vote had hurt her popularity in the state .
But Cheney, who was re-elected in 2020 with 69% of the vote, still has a substantial following in the state and raised $ 1.5 million in the first three months of the year.
Landon Brown, representative of the Wyoming government, predicted that Bouchard and Gray “will eventually split the vote between their faction of Republicans” and that Cheney will receive at least 40% of the vote.
“There’s way too much credit given to these two – she’s a juggernaut and an incredible ambassador for our state,” Brown said. “They’re just seeing through a different pair of glasses.”
Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. have warned of this potential outcome. In March, Trump Jr. publicly pushed Wyoming to pass a bill creating a run-off election, which could have forced Cheney into a race against another Trump-backed candidate. But the bill died in the state Senate after a narrow 14-15 vote.
The former president then said in mid-April that he would back a 2022 candidate against her “soon”, saying that “the only way for her to win is with many candidates running against her and dividing the votes” .
“So many people are looking to run against Crazy Liz Cheney – but we only want one,” Trump said.
Still, Cheney has many allies in the conference – and they defend her for standing up for her beliefs.
“If a prerequisite for running our conference is lying to our constituents, then Liz is not the best solution,” said Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, an Ohio Republican who also voted to impeach Trump. “Liz is going to be honest, honest and will stand up for herself.”
This story was updated with additional developments on Friday