Cheney vows to lead fight to break Trump’s grip on GOP

WASHINGTON — Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said Wednesday she plans to continue her fight against former President Donald Trump’s grip on the Republican Party after her GOP colleagues ousted her from House leadership.

“I intend to be the leader, one of the leaders, in a fight to help to restore our party, in a fight to bring our party back to substance and principle and in a fight to make clear that we won’t participate in the really dangerous effort that’s underway,” Cheney said in an exclusive interview with NBC’s “TODAY” show co-host Savannah Guthrie, when asked if she is the leader of the opposition in exile.

Cheney sat down for the interview Wednesday morning after she was removed as chair of the House Republican Conference for vocally rebuking Trump for his stolen election lies, a move that strengthens the former president’s hold over the direction of the GOP.

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Cheney, who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, responded to the former president’s most recent claim last week that the 2020 election was “fraudulent,” calling his words “THE BIG LIE.” And she remained defiant Tuesday evening ahead of the closed-door meeting that decided her fate, describing his claims as a threat to democracy.

Regarding the suggestion that her ouster has amounted to a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday that it was an “opening salvo in that battle.”

“And it’s a battle we have to win because it’s not just about the Republican Party, it’s about the country,” she said.

Guthrie noted that Trump’s political team is actively searching for a Republican candidate to challenge Cheney in a primary next year.

Asked to respond to that threat, Cheney said, “You know — bring it on.”

House Republicans removed Cheney from the No. 3 position in their conference during a quick voice vote behind closed doors on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Republicans had planned to vote using a secret ballot, but decided instead to conduct a voice vote, making it impossible to know how many in her caucus supported her removal.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., is the favorite to replace Cheney, and House Republicans will take a vote to elect her on Friday.

Rebecca Shabad is a congressional reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.

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