House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said on Monday that Republicans Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and are the leaders of the Republican Party, opposing her colleagues’ idea that former President Donald Trump has great influence over the party.
Cheney has spoken out harshly against Trump and was one of 10 GOP House members who voted to impeach him after the Jan. 6 Capitol breach. Her response about GOP leadership came when a reporter asked her what role she would like to see the former president take in Republicans regaining control of the House and Senate in 2022.
“I think right now, the Republican Party is headed by Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy in the House. I think our elected leaders are the ones who are in charge of the Republican Party,” Cheney said while at the House Republicans’ policy retreat in Florida.
“And I think as we look at ’22 and ’24, we’re very much going to be focused on substance and on the issues,” Cheney said. “And I think that’s where you got to attract back the voters that we lost in 2020, by conveying to them that, in fact, we are the party that they can trust. We’re the party of competence and of conservative principles.”
However, Trump still retains his influence over the GOP as the most recent Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics poll (pdf) shows.
Unlike Cheney, many Republican lawmakers still see Trump as having a lot of influence in the party. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently said in an Axios interview Trump’s influence on the Republican party could make it “bigger, he can make it stronger, he can make it more diverse. And he also could destroy it.”
Cheney has spoken out against what she says is Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 breach many times and Trump has promised to campaign against the congresswoman in her home state to get her out of office.
Cheney told reporters she wants to see Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) 9/11 style commission get started quickly to find out what happened on Jan. 6.
“I do think it’s really important that we have a commission. … In my view, that is, the members of the commission should be retired, they shouldn’t be currently serving officials that face political pressure of any time. It should be absolutely bipartisan in nature, and it should begin immediately, should have subpoena power, because the American people need to know how we got to Jan. 6. What happened on Jan. 6, and people need to be held accountable,” Cheney said.
Some Republicans including McConnell have said that the commission should not only focus on Jan. 6 but should investigate other ongoing violent rioting happening in U.S. cities since last year, but Cheney disagreed.
“I think that what happened on Jan. 6 is unprecedented in our history. And I think that, that it’s very important that the commission be able to focus on that. I’m very concerned, as all my colleagues are, about the violence that we saw, the BLM, the Antifa violence last summer. I think that’s a different set of issues, a different set of problems, and a different set of solutions,” Cheney added.