Analysis: The Liz Cheney Collision Course

Posted: Feb 08, 2021 1:15 PM

Congresswoman Liz Cheney is not sorry. She put out a blistering statement prior to her vote to impeach President Trump last month -- and in the face of an uprising from the right flank of the caucus she helps lead, as well as a formal rebuke from her state's Republican Party, she's not backing down.  Not one inch.  In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, which Beth covered yesterday, Cheney did not mince words.  Here is the full interview, but I'll highlight a few quotes below:

The 12 minute clip was posted to YouTube by Cheney's official account. She actively wants people to watch it. She's not ducking the controversy.  "President Trump claimed for months that the election was stolen, and then apparently set about to do everything he could to steal it himself," she said around the 4:30 mark. "And that ended up in an attack on the Capitol, five people killed that day.  That's the kind of attack that can never happen again. Our institutions held, but we all have an obligation to ensure that they continue to do so. Don't look past what happened on January 6th."  She later stated that Trump's actions leading up the insurrection, and his conduct that day, makes him "a person who does not have a role as a leader of our party moving forward," adding that the GOP "should not be embracing the former president."  That's a potent stance that departs from the views of most Republican voters, which she surely knows.  A battle is brewing.

Cheney handily won an up-or-down vote among her colleagues last week, with only 30 percent of the House GOP conference voting to oust her.  She won her 2020 Congressional race in Wyoming by a whopping 44-point margin.  The question will soon become whether her impeachment decisions are so offensive to her constituents that she's unable to secure the party's nomination in the upcoming 2022 cycle.  Vengeance-minded Trump loyalists are already mobilizing to take her out in a primary, with a lopsided censure from the Wyoming GOP previewing the coming recriminations:  

Cheney's response in the exchange above was to refuse to comply with their demands while pointing out that some of the language in the measure was inaccurate crankery, and making clear that she plans to deal with the impending confrontation head-on.  Whether her approach will prevail remains to be seen, but it'll be an absolutely fascinating dynamic to watch.  She carried 74 percent of the GOP vote in Wyoming's House at-large primary last year.  It's a very safe bet that she won't hit that mark again.  The challenge on Trump's role within the party in future election cycles is that he remains very strongly popular among Republicans (his GOP approval rating is diminished but still quite high), whereas the broader electorate generally takes...a different view:

Other recent polls show smaller majorities in favor of conviction, with vast partisan divides.  I'll leave you with another Republican lawmaker pointedly responding to the prospect of an intra-party censure over the issue of Trump loyalty: