Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida on Tuesday accused House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney of trying to undermine President Trump and called for her to step down from GOP leadership.
Ms. Cheney, Wyoming Republican, has had several public breaks with Mr. Trump over her tenure as the third highest-ranking House Republican.
During the course of the coronavirus pandemic, she’s countered his messaging on masks and lockdown policies in the country and increasingly questioned his foreign policy decisions, particularly regarding reports of Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers.
She’s also been an ardent supporter of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the Coronavirus Task Force, despite the pushback he’s received from those on the right and those in the Trump administration.
But Ms. Cheney has also been in the president’s corner on issues such as impeachment, and votes in line with his agenda nearly 97% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., chimed in on Twitter comparing Ms. Cheney to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney — who often clashes with the president.
Ms. Cheney responded Tuesday afternoon, noting that the president’s son isn’t a member of the caucus and therefore doesn’t have a say, while touting the GOP’s ability to have robust debates.
“I take my position in leadership very seriously. I take the oath that I swore to the Constitution very seriously,” she told reporters. “We have a situation — in many cases — where in our conference we can have a healthy exchange of views.”
The heated exchange that took place behind closed doors reportedly stemmed from a clash between House Freedom Caucus members and Ms. Cheney for her earlier endorsement of Rep. Thomas Massie’s primary challenger.
Ms. Cheney donated to Todd McMurtry’s campaign after Mr. Massie tried to derail passage of the bipartisan $2.2 trillion coronavirus package deal, but requested her money be returned in April after Mr. McMurtry made racist remarks.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy jumped in and offered his endorsement of Ms. Cheney’s leadership.
“We’re honored to have her as Conference Chair,” he said.