- Rep. Liz Cheney said some GOP lawmakers feared the consequences of opposing Donald Trump.
- Cheney said some GOP voted not to impeach Trump not because they thought he was innocent but out of fear.
- Cheney was ousted from her GOP leadership position last week over her opposition to Trump.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Rep. Liz Cheney has said that some Republicans chose not to impeach Donald Trump over his role in inciting the Capitol riot not because they thought he was innocent but because they feared the consequences of opposing the former president.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper Friday, Cheney addressed the recent decision by party colleagues to oust her from her position in the party leadership over her rejection of Trump’s conspiracy theory that the election was stolen from him as a result of mass fraud.
—CNN (@CNN) May 14, 2021
Cheney said that opposition to Trump was, in fact, more widespread among GOP lawmakers in Congress than it might appear, and there are “more members who believe in substance and policy and ideals than are willing to say so.”
“If you look at the vote to impeach, for example, there were members who told me that they were afraid for their own security – afraid, in some instances, for their lives,” Cheney said.
“And that tells you something about where we are as a country, that members of Congress aren’t able to cast votes, or feel that they can’t, because of their own security,” she added.
Cheney’s comments came hours after Republicans voted to replace her with Rep. Elise Stefanik as chairperson of the House Republican Conference, the third most powerful position in the congressional GOP.
Stefanik is a backer of Trump’s claim that the election was stolen from him, a claim that has been dismissed in a series of court challenges but overall holds a less conservative voting record than Cheney.
The ouster of Cheney reflects the hold Trump still has over the GOP months after his election defeat by Joe Biden.
Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January for his role in inciting the January 6 Capitol riot. He was eventually acquitted, with guilty votes in the Senate not reaching the two-thirds majority required for a conviction.
Cheney’s comments Friday echo reports at the time of the impeachment trial that some Republican lawmakers were living in fear of potential violence from hardline Trump supporters among their own party grassroots.
Cheney said that Trump was continuing to undermine US democracy by repeating his baseless election fraud claims, and Republicans need to take a stand.
“We have to recognize what it means for the nation to have a former president who has not conceded and who continues to suggest that our electoral system cannot function, cannot do the will of the people,” she said.