Liz Cheney Ouster Would Be a New Low for House Republicans

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Liz Cheney, chair of the House Republican Conference, is about to be ousted from the party’s leadership — not for any dereliction of duty but for the very opposite. She’s been a rightful critic of former president Donald Trump, deploring both his part in encouraging the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and his continued trafficking in lies about the election. Evidently, this is cause for termination.

In punishing this stance, her colleagues are wrong on the merits and send a message that voters need to weigh very carefully — namely that Republicans in Congress remain in thrall to a failed and grossly irresponsible man who threatens to destroy their party and its purpose.

In a recent op-ed for the Washington Post, Cheney wrote: “Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work — confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law.” She’s right.

Though he opposed Trump’s impeachment in January, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy agreed back then that Trump “bears responsibility” for the riotous attack on Congress. And when a minority of his members first tried to oust Cheney, McCarthy stood by her. Now he says he’s “lost confidence.” Yet nothing has changed. Trump continues to peddle his “Big Lie” nonsense about stolen votes. And he keeps repeating his attacks on former vice president Mike Pence for refusing to cancel state electoral votes and hand him the election. As you may recall, “Hang Mike Pence” was one of the chants heard on Jan. 6.

Trump’s toxic interventions continue to guide Republican policy. In multiple states, they inspire a party-wide mania to draft new laws restricting votes. This arguably started in Georgia, but Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has just signed a similar bill. Texas is about to pass another. Meanwhile, Arizona’s Republican-controlled Senate is conducting a sham “audit” of 2020 ballots — an exercise, managed by a GOP-linked consultant group, that has included at least one person who participated in the Jan. 6 riots. This has rightly drawn the attention of the Justice Department. Trump is cheering it on.

In firing Cheney, a leader willing to speak these truths, Republicans in Congress would be crossing yet another line. One can only hope voters will hold them to account.

Editorials are written by the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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