CASPER — The Republican National Committee voted Friday to censure Rep. Liz Cheney over her service on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The censure was decided by voice vote of the 168-member committee. The resolution was co-sponsored by Frank Eathorne, the chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party.
The resolution that censured Cheney said the panel had persecuted “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”
Cheney hit back on Twitter, posting a video of the violence and rioting from that day with the caption, “This was January 6th. This is not ‘legitimate political discourse.’”
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the only other Republican on the select committee, was also censured by the body.
National committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said it’s the “first time” she knows of that the national Republican Party has censured current members of Congress.
The vote comes during a tough reelection campaign for Cheney, who angered many in her own party for voting to impeach former President Donald Trump over the Capitol riot.
Cheney has refused to back down from her criticism of Trump, whom she says is a threat to the rule of law in the United States. She’s also called elements of the state party “radical,” noting that Eathorne once raised the specter of secession.
“Frank Eathorne and the Republican National Committee are trying to assert their will and take away the voice of the people of Wyoming before a single vote has even been cast,” a Cheney spokesman said Friday, after the censure.
Trump is backing lawyer Harriet Hageman in the effort to unseat Cheney. Friday’s censure shows Cheney cannot effectively represent Wyoming in Congress, Hageman said in a statement Friday.
“She doesn’t have allies in the Republican Party, and the Democrats only see her as a temporary and useful tool to achieve their partisan ends,” Hageman said. “She spends every minute of every day engaged in her personal vendetta against Donald Trump, and that is not why Wyoming sent her to Congress.”
After the vote, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, came to Cheney’s defense. He criticized the party for going after Cheney and Kinzinger.
“Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol,” Romney wrote in a tweet. “Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost.”
This censure comes almost a year to the day after the Wyoming Republican Party voted to censure the congresswoman.
In the time since, the state GOP leadership voted to no longer recognize Cheney as a Republican.
Leaders of the state party privately signed a letter that would allow the national party to financially back Hageman, the Washington Post reported.
The letter also deems Hageman as the presumptive nominee in the race.
The Wyoming House contest in unlike any in the state’s recent history. In the past, Cheney has coasted to victory. This time, the race has become hyper-national and she’s running against a formidable opponent.
The high stakes and nationalization of the race has also funneled considerably more out-of-state money into the Cheney campaign’s pockets than previous Wyoming House contests (in a state whose electorate was known for not wanting outsiders involved in their politics). The Hageman campaign recently launched a page on its website that’s aimed at indirectly inviting super PACs — a type of political action committee that can raise and spend vast amounts of money on candidates — into the race. The Hageman campaign’s sly nod is the first time in recent history that super PACs have been welcomed into a Wyoming House race. Even as Cheney faces the toughest challenge in her political career and continues to be rebuked by state and national Republicans, she has shown little sign of backing down.
The House Republican primary is set for August.