One of the most prominent Republican politicians in the US has been fired from her role after she opposed the conspiracy claims of former president Donald Trump.
Liz Cheney was the House Republican conference chair, making her the party’s third most powerful politician in the House of Representatives. She was also the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress.
After the mob attack on the Capitol building in January, Ms Cheney supported moves to impeach Mr Trump, and flatly rejected his claims that the election had been “stolen”.
She continued to criticise Mr Trump, saying that the party must “speak the truth… the election was not stolen”.
She was removed from her position after a morning meeting, in which her speech was booed by some other Republican members of Congress. It is understood that the subsequent vote was a “voice vote”, with no formal record.
Mr Trump released a statement, in which he described Ms Cheney as a “bitter, horrible human being”, adding that she “has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our country”.
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Her replacement as House Republican conference chair has not yet been formally selected, but is likely to be Elise Stefanik, a 36-year-old who serves as a representative for a district in New York.
Once considered a moderate, Ms Stefanik became a loyal supporter of Mr Trump and voted against certifying the presidential election result, even after the Capitol attack.
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She faces some opposition from conservative Republican politicians who are troubled by the more liberal attitude she showed in her earlier years in politics, but has earned the support of both Mr Trump and the party’s leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy, the combination of which will make her hard to stop.
Ms Cheney, who is the daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, will retain her place in the House of Representatives, and is likely to remain a divisive figure within Republican politics. She has claimed that Mr Trump’s claims of fraud were “poisoning our democratic society”.
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Her seat, in Wyoming, is up for election again next year but she has yet to confirm whether she will stand for what would be a fourth term.
Ms Cheney had previously been tolerated by Mr McCarthy, who said the party had to be “a big tent” in the wake of the Capitol Hill attacks.
However, as it became clear that Mr Trump had retained a great swathe of support across the country, Mr McCarthy has changed tack, apparently accepting the need to support the former president’s opinions.
“We all need to be working as one, if we are able to win a majority,” he said, taken by many as a sign that he now wants Republicans to align behind a single message.
And what is clear is that the orthodoxy he expects is support for the former president.