Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., arrives to the chamber ahead of President Joe Biden speaking to a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

Young camp quiet on potential Cheney ouster

Republican House leadership moves toward Trump loyalty.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are considering removing Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, from her position as No. 3 in the party’s leadership over her strong rhetoric against former President Donald Trump. But Alaska’s Don Young, a Republican and longest-serving member of the House, has so far remained silent on the issue.

Young voted against impeaching Trump following the Jan. 6 riots and said both sides of the political spectrum need to tone down their rhetoric. In a Facebook post following the vote, Young called the riots un-American and could not be considered legitimate protest.

Today, I voted against the Democrats' non-binding resolution calling on Vice President Pence to activate Section 4 of…

Posted by Congressman Don Young on Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Young’s office did not return multiple requests for comment Thursday.

“It is on all of us, including President Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to lower the temperature in our political climate, and realize that rhetoric can have dangerous consequences,” Young wrote.

Young and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, didn’t vote to convict Trump, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski did vote to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, and the Alaska Republican Party censured her for it. The impeachment vote was one of several reasons cited by the state party in its censure, which also cited Murkowski repeatedly criticizing Trump and alleging he provoked the Jan. 6 riot.

In an interview with the Empire before the censure vote, Murkowski said the Republican Party was going through a transition.

“If the Republican Party is no more than the party of a person, the party of Donald Trump and not a party of principles that causes me to question where do I fit in that,” she said.

The Anchorage Daily News reported in March Young voted against Murkowski’s censure.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, signaled he would no longer protect his lieutenant from those seeking her ouster from House GOP leadership, the Associated Press reported Tuesday, opening the possibility of a vote to remove her from the job as soon as next week.

House Republicans are considering replacing Cheney with Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, an ardent Trump supporter who has the former president’s endorsement. Speaking on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, Stefanik said she is committed to sending a clear message that “we are one team and that means working with the president and working with all of our excellent Republican members of Congress.” Stefanik repeatedly used the word president in referring to Trump.

But Cheney has made expressed rejection of Trump central to her message. In a May 5, opinion piece in the Washington Post, Cheney urged her Republican colleagues to reject a cult of personality around Trump.

[State GOP wants Murkowski to stop identifying as Republican]

“In public statements again this week, former president Donald Trump has repeated his claims that the 2020 election was a fraud and was stolen,” Cheney wrote. “His message: I am still the rightful president, and President Biden is illegitimate. Trump repeats these words now with full knowledge that exactly this type of language provoked violence on Jan. 6.”

The GOP is at a turning point, Cheney said, urging Republicans to turn away from what she called a dangerous and anti-democratic cult of personality around Trump. Coalition building across the political spectrum was needed to “return America to sanity,” she said.

“But this will not happen if Republicans choose to abandon the rule of law and join Trump’s crusade to undermine the foundation of our democracy and reverse the legal outcome of the last election,” Cheney said.

There were no other visible contenders for Cheney’s post, and a secret ballot by House Republicans on her fate is possible next week.

Cheney was making little noticeable effort to cement support by calling colleagues or enlisting others to lobby on her behalf, said two House GOP aides who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the situation. A third person familiar with Cheney’s effort also said she was not lining up votes.

Cheney’s opposition to Trump put her out of step with most House Republicans, 138 of whom voted against certifying the Electoral College vote for Biden’s victory.

Republicans say a McCarthy speech backing Cheney at a closed-door House GOP meeting in February was largely credited with her surviving an earlier push by conservatives oust her, in a 145-61 secret ballot.

A top House GOP aide has said McCarthy won’t do that this time.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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