Guest Editorial: The GOP’s shameful bow to Trump’s lies

House Republicans have ousted Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership post after she repeatedly rebuked former President Donald Trump for his false claims of election fraud and his role in inciting the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack.

GOP lawmakers gathered privately in the Capitol Visitor Center on May 12 and voted to remove Cheney, R-Wyo., from the party’s No. 3 House position.

Cheney’s days in leadership were numbered after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., joined Trump and other Republicans aligned against her.

Cheney was once a rising star in the party. She was Congress’ highest-ranking Republican woman and a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Cheney arrived in Congress in 2017 as a conservative, favoring tax cuts and an assertive use of U.S. power abroad. By November 2018 she was elected to a top leadership job in the House.

But her political career met a roadblock once she became one of 10 House Republicans to back Trump’s second impeachment for inciting his supporters’ deadly Capitol assault of Jan. 6. The Senate acquitted him.

In a statement before the House impeachment vote, Cheney said: “The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.”

She withstood a February effort to boot her from leadership in a 145-61 secret ballot.

Last Tuesday night, she took to a nearly empty House chamber to defend her own position.

“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” she said, adding, “I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”

On Wednesday, she was ousted from GOP leadership.

The vote to remove Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference, the No. 3 spot in leadership, showed that the party will not tolerate disagreement with Trump.

Stripping Cheney of her leadership position marks a historic and shameful moment for the GOP. To allow one man to have such a powerful grip on a political party could have dangerous consequences.

One of the nation’s two major parties has in effect declared an extraordinary admission requirement to its highest ranks: loyalty to Trump and embrace of his lies that he lost his November reelection bid due to widespread fraud. In states around the country, officials and judges of both parties found no evidence to support Trump’s claims that extensive illegalities caused his defeat.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the party can’t succeed without him.

This is a jarring admission.

The Republican Party, which once had a reputation for small government and big defense, increasingly only stands for supporting Trump and his lies.

Only a small number of Republicans spoke out against removing Cheney.

“It will do nothing but drive some people away from our party,” said Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah before the vote to oust Cheney.

As Cheney correctly noted in a Washington Post column last week, “The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution.”

The Republican Party has decided to choose loyalty to Trump over the truth, the rule of a man over the rule of law.

This Editorial originally appeared in The Philadelphia Tribune.

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