My sense is that McCarthy’s appearance this morning on Fox, replete with a suspiciously leaked “hot mic” moment, plus the many anonymously sourced quotes in the media about Cheney’s imminent demise are all geared towards the same outcome, namely, convincing her that she’s doomed and should step down to spare herself a humiliation before the caucus forces her out.
She should not. If House Republicans want to punish a member for telling the truth about the election and the insurrection then they should have to get their hands dirty. Make them pick up the knife and plunge it. And then they can take the consequences afterward in the form of a thousand awkward questions asking what it says about the party that they found it unbearable to have Cheney restate that the “stop the steal” campaign and the Capitol riot were disgraceful each time she’s been asked about them.
Make ’em vote, Liz. Don’t quit.
Cheney has no intention of stepping aside as House Republican conference chair, two people familiar with the matter tell CNN. This means that if she’s ousted, it will have to be done through a conference vote.
A vote to oust Cheney from her leadership job seems all but certain and could happen as soon as May 12, according to several senior Republican members and aides. Ultimately, it’s McCarthy’s call on whether the vote would happen that quickly. But a senior House Republican member predicted to CNN that it’s only a matter of time before she’s ousted from the leadership post.
“Liz is gone. Just a question of how and when,” the GOP member said based on taking the temperature of the conference, but insisted on anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue candidly.
Fox was also hearing last night that a vote on Cheney would come soon after Congress’s recess ended next week:
3) Cheney survived a “no confidence” vote in the conference, 145-61. “She exhausted her reservoir” of support said one GOP source.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 3, 2021
One major potential wrinkle in dumping her is needing someone lined up to replace her, ideally a woman candidate. McCarthy seems to have solved that problem too:
She DID NOT make calls last time. Significant move on her behalf.
Rs will try to dump Cheney
The details on what she is doing in Punchbowl News Middayhttps://t.co/dg451HnwW3
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) May 4, 2021
The news that Stefanik is dialing around to colleagues, seeking their support, features in practically every report about the Cheney drama today, which makes me wonder if that’s not another detail that’s been strategically leaked to try to convince her to fall on her sword instead of making the caucus vote. Stefanik is young, a McCarthy ally, has pandered to Trumpers relentlessly over the past few years, and has raised money for women candidates, notes CNN, which makes her an easy fit for the job. And unlike the loose cannons like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, one of whom should rightly replace Cheney as the party hugs Trumpism more tightly, Stefanik started as an establishmentarian and a wonk. She’s MAGA opportunistically, not as a matter of conviction. I’d guess McCarthy appreciates that about her since the same is true of him.
Cheney still has her defenders, though:
Every person of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie. As one of my Republican Senate colleagues said to me following my impeachment vote: “I wouldn’t want to be a member of a group that punished someone for following their conscience.”
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 4, 2021
That sounds a bit like a call for a new party. How about it, Mitt? Liz?
One unlikely but not impossible scenario occurs to me: What if Cheney … wins next week’s vote? One would think McCarthy knows how to count well enough that he wouldn’t let the vote to happen if there’s any chance of him losing it, but Cheney has a decent margin to work with from her 145-61 triumph in February. She could lose 41 votes and still prevail. And remember that the caucus vote is by secret ballot so members don’t need to fear Trump’s or McCarthy’s wrath by sticking with her. Are there 104 House Republicans willing to defy their caucus leader because they admire Cheney for continuing to speak the truth about Trump and the insurrection?
Probably not. At some point, the base’s upset at Cheney risks turning into upset at individual members. The longer she holds on, the greater the risk of rank-and-file Republicans being primaried by MAGA opportunists promising to get rid of Liz Cheney once and for all if they’re elected. Dumping her may be a matter of self-preservation. But I wouldn’t put the odds that they keep her at zero.
I’ll leave you with Pelosi praising the courage of “Lynne” Cheney today. Yeah, we all admire Dick Cheney’s wife, Nancy. But what about Liz?
Speaker Pelosi on Rep. Liz Cheney: “I do commend Lynne Cheney for her courage, for her patriotism.” pic.twitter.com/9klVMyBcE4
— The Recount (@therecount) May 4, 2021