WASHINGTON – Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney on Tuesday defended embattled Rep. Liz Cheney, who is facing attacks from fellow House Republicans after she repeatedly pushed back against former President Donald Trump’s claims the election was stolen.
Cheney, R-Wyo., is under mounting criticism and scorn from Republicans over her statements regarding Trump. She called his election fraud claim a “big lie” on Monday
“Every person of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie,” Romney tweeted Tuesday.
“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,'” he said referring to his votes to convict Trump in two impeachment trials.
Romney, like Cheney, has faced criticism from those within the Republican Party for speaking out against Trump’s unfounded claims about the 2020 election being stolen.
The Utah senator was booed Saturday at his state’s GOP convention, and some Republicans in Utah offered a censure of Romney. That vote failed 798-711 at the convention.
More:Collins says she was ‘appalled’ at boos for Romney from Utah Republicans at censure vote
Both Romney and Cheney were among the few Republicans in their respective chambers to come out against Trump in his impeachment and subsequent Senate trial earlier this year. Cheney voted to impeach Trump and Romney voted to convict him on a charge he incited his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, the day a joint session of Congress met to count the results of the 2020 presidential election.
In February, Cheney survived an attempt to strip her of her leadership title as House GOP Conference chair despite efforts from Trump and his allies to remove her from then position.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy defended the Wyoming congresswoman back in February. But now, he is saying the conference is losing confidence in her.
More:Liz Cheney persists in pushing back on Trump’s election claims despite perilous position in GOP
On Fox News on Tuesday, the Republican leader from California said: “I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message. We all need to be working as one if we’re able to win the majority.”
But, on a hot mic, McCarthy went a step further, telling anchor Steve Doocy off-air: “I’ve had it with… I’ve had it with her. You know, I’ve lost confidence…. Well, someone just has to bring a motion, but I assume that will probably take place.” The comment was first reported by Axios and confirmed by CNN.
“This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on Jan 6. Liz will not do that. That is the issue,” Jeremy Adler, Cheney’s spokesperson, told USA TODAY in response to McCarthy’s comments.
Cheney had responded to Trump, who said Monday that “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!”
“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen,” she wrote in a tweet. “Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office slammed McCarthy and other House Republicans for attempting to oust Cheney.
“We’d be frustrated with Cheney, too, if we based our political strategy on lying to the American people,” her office said. “Apparently, refusing to bend a knee to former President Trump in support of his insurrection disqualifies Cheney for her GOP leadership post.
At least one GOP congressman, Pennsylvania Rep. Guy Reschenthaler is openly pushing for Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., to replace Cheney.
“It’s time for us to go in a new direction for GOP Conference Chair,” he said on Twitter. “@RepStefanik was brilliant during Trump’s impeachment as one of his biggest defenders. Her command of conservative messaging and policies makes her an incredible choice for conference chair.”
A request for comment to Stefanik’s spokesperson was not immediately returned.
Romney is not the only GOP senator to defend Cheney.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who also voted to convict Trump in February, said Cheney, “is a woman of strength and conscious… She did what she felt was right and I salute her for that.”
Contributing: Jeanine Santucci, Chelsey Cox, the Associated Press