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Tipsheet

Chris Christie Has a Theory About Liz Cheney

Jim Bourg/Pool via AP

While making a panel appearance on ABC's "This Week," former Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) shared his theory about Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who was removed from her position as the House Republican Conference chair last May. According to Christie, she "wanted to be kicked out."

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POLITICO'S Laura Barron-Lopez, who was also on the panel, had asked Christie "why are Republicans like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger being kicked out of the House Republican Conference," pointing out "they seem to have no place in the party."

Christie, who frequently makes such panel appearances, provided a lesson about Republican voters. "Look, inside Washington, D.C. politics is not something that the Republican Party en masse is all that concerned with. It’s what the primary voters decide to do," he offered.

"And just because you have a group of folks inside the House GOP caucus kicking folks out, look, my view is always Liz Cheney wanted to be kicked out, because remember, the first time that she made the statements she made she was re-elected to her leadership position. It's only when she continued after that, that looked like somebody who wanted to make a point and wanted to be kicked out," Christie continued.

Host Jonathan Karl offered that Cheney "says the point she's making is to defend the Constitution of the United States," prompting Christie to respond "look, whatever it is, it wasn't like she was looking to protect her position and the first time that Republicans inside that caucus had a chance to vote on Liz Cheney, they voted to keep her, overwhelmingly."

Cheney's fellow House Republicans had taken issue with how Cheney's beef with former President Donald Trump was acting as a distraction when it came to unifying efforts to defeat President Joe Biden's agenda and elect Republicans. 

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In February of last year, House Republicans voted to keep her in the role. 

Issues for Cheney really started to heat up though, especially in early May of last year. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who chairs the Republican Study Committee (RSC), was quoted in Axios as saying "I don't know" if Cheney would retain her position in a month from when asked. "That’s up to her. I think a lot of us would like to see her join the team, be on the same team, same mission, the same focus. And at this point, that’s what many of us are questioning."

Cheney did not last a month. She was ousted on May 12, 2021 in a voice vote and was replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who still holds the position today. 

Since then, problems have only grown for Cheney and other House Republicans. She and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who was also referenced during the Sunday panel by Barron-Lopez, were the only two Republicans to vote in favor of the January 6 Select Committee. They're also the only two Republican members to serve on it, though they were both appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). No members appointed by the minority party serve on the select committee, since Pelosi blocked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's picks of Reps. Banks and Jim Jordan (R-OH), leading McCarthy to pull all his picks.

House Republicans, such as members of the House Freedom Caucus, have called on Cheney and Kinzinger to be stripped of their committees. The RNC also earlier this year voted to censure Cheney and Kinzinger.

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Cheney herself made a Sunday show appearance, on CNN's "State of the Union," during which she was asked by host Jake Tapper about the select committee and whether it has made a decision to refer Trump for criminal charges. 

While Cheney said "we have not made a decision about referrals on the committee," she also shared that "I think that it is absolutely the case, it's absolutely clear that what President Trump was doing, what a number of people around him were doing, that they knew it was unlawful. They did it anyway."

The exchange between Tapper and Cheney also further solidified how unified the committee members are against Trump, as Cheney shot down Tapper's claims "there is a dispute on your committee."

"There's not really a dispute on the committee," Cheney shot back, also later adding that "I wouldn't say that it's accurate right now to say that there's a dispute on this issue." 

"The committee is working in a really collaborative way to discuss these issues, as we are with all of the issues we're addressing. And we will continue to work together to do so. So, I wouldn't characterize there as being a dispute on the committee." Cheney also explained. "I think that it is the single most collaborative committee on which I have ever served. I'm very proud of the bipartisan way in which we're operating. And I'm confident that we will -- we will work to come to agreement on all of the issues that we're facing."

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Later in the segment, Cheney, as Democrats have also done, compared the war and catastrophic loss of life in Ukraine to perceived threats to democracy in the United States. In doing so, she threw McCarthy under the bus. Tapper had goaded Cheney into such a response:

TAPPER: House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is in the region. I think he's in Poland. He just issued a statement in support of democracy and the individuals fighting for a free and democratic Ukraine.

And I'm just wondering if you feel that there's any disconnect there, given the fact that he has not exactly been supportive of your efforts to get to the bottom of the attempt to overturn the election in the United States.

CHENEY: Well, what I would say is that what's happening today in Ukraine is a reminder that democracy is fragile, that democracy must be defended, and that each one of us in a position to do so has an obligation to do so.

Clearly, I think Leader McCarthy failed to do that, failed to put his oath to the Constitution ahead of his own personal political gains. And I think that, at the end of the day, each one of us is responsible for our own actions and activity.

But, if we don't stand for our Constitution, if we don't stand for democracy, if we don't stand for freedom, if we -- if we forget that our oath to our Constitution is an oath to a document, it's not an oath to an individual, we have got to always remember that, or our democracy is in peril.

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Cheney is facing a primary opponent, Harriet Hageman, whom Trump endorsed last September. In addition to the former president, Hageman has the support of numerous House Republicans. The primary is August 16. 

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