Senate Republicans have reacted to the vote to remove Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., from her leadership post with shock and dismay, either publicly or privately, according to The Hill.
Earlier this month, Cheney drew ire from House Republicans after saying that "The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system."
House Republicans voted to strip her of her leadership position less than two weeks later, with Cheney saying during the vote that if the party members want someone who will "enable and spread [Trump’s] destructive lies" they should vote to remove her.
"I hope that Republicans will continue to be the party that values free speech and doesn’t give in to group think," said Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., adding that Cheney has been a "strong voice for conservative principles."
He added, "People ought to be able to speak their minds. To me, it’s about speaking the truth, and the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.
"Reality is we had an election last year, we got an election coming up in November of '22, and if we want to be successful there, we need to focus on the issues that the American people care about and not rehash the last election."
Cheney’s Senate counterpart, Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., added that his state, which only has one House member along with its two senators, is losing a seat among the party leadership.
"If you’re from a small state, to have somebody in leadership, clearly there are advantages of that, in both the House and the Senate," he said, adding, "The House needs to make their own decisions on that. I’m focused on the Senate, where I chair the conference here."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told the Hill that she’s worried about what the vote signals about how the party will deal with members who criticize Trump in the future.
"Yeah, I am," she said. "None of us should live in fear of a comment that might be made. I recognize that we all have decisions and choices we make, but if I, as an elected member, feel that I cannot speak because I will be shut down by my party or my party leader, I don’t think that that allows for the type of representation that I think Alaskans [expect]."
The Hill notes that Senate Republican leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have rejected former President Donald Trump’s claims about the presidential election, with McConnell saying in February at the conclusion of Trump’s second impeachment trial that the idea that Trump’s victory "was being stolen in some secret coup" is a "wild myth."
He said at the time, "I defended the president’s right to bring any complaints to our legal system. The legal system spoke. The Electoral College spoke. As I stood up and said clearly at the time, the election was settled. But that reality just opened a new chapter of even wilder and more unfounded claims."
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