Opinion: Only Trump matters in GOP purge of Cheney

The internal Republican battle over false charges of election fraud made by Donald Trump in 2020 boiled over again this week for the GOP, sparking a likely leadership shakeup for Republicans in Congress.

And it almost seemed logical that the latest twist in this fight would bubble up in Georgia, as U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., blasted Trump during a political retreat in Sea Island, first behind closed doors, then very publicly on social media.

“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen,” Cheney said Monday on Twitter, taking aim at Trump. “Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”

That was too much to stomach for U.S. House Republicans, many of whom already voted this year to overturn election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania, embracing Trump’s evidence-free claims of election fraud.

In a sense, the effort to get rid of Cheney mirrors the way Republicans turned on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who committed the original sin of repeatedly rejecting Trump’s allegations of election wrongdoing after the November 2020 election.

It didn’t matter that Raffensperger and Cheney were both correct in declaring that Trump had made false charges of election fraud — the problem was they very publicly said the Emperor had no clothes.

Raffensperger is already facing a primary challenge in 2022 from U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro, who fully supported Trump’s lies of widespread election fraud in Georgia’s 2020 elections.

And now it’s expected that Hice and other Republicans will vote as soon as next week to boot Cheney from the number three GOP leadership post in the U.S. House, likely replacing her with U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York.

The quick embrace of Stefanik was notable, given that she’s nowhere near the conservative that Cheney has been in Congress.

The comparison isn’t close.  Numbers compiled by the American Conservative Union give Stefanik a 43.58 lifetime rating.  For Cheney, it’s 78 out of 100.

Compare that to Hice, who sports a 98.1 rating from the ACU, or U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, whose ACU rating is 95.6.

When Stefanik was first elected to Congress, she proudly made herself out to be a GOP moderate — what southern Republicans like to call a ‘RINO.’

Last year’s ACU ratings showed Stefanik was the seventh least conservative Republican in the U.S. House.

But that doesn’t matter to most Congressional Republicans — they just cannot tolerate anyone who publicly crosses Trump.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, said her opposition to Cheney was based on her desire to ‘represent the strong conservative values of most Republican voters.’

If that was the case, Cheney would be the easy choice.

But this isn’t really about Liz Cheney.  It’s about Donald Trump.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and the Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com

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