WASHINGTON — The White House is alarmed over the GOP’s barrage of attacks on now former Republican conference leader Rep. Liz Cheney, casting its Wednesday morning ouster of the Wyoming lawmaker as “disturbing.”
“Our democracy was attacked and six people lost their lives,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki Wednesday afternoon during a press briefing. “It’s disturbing to see any leader, regardless of party, being attacked for simply speaking the truth. And as the president said last week, it is hard to understand.”
Cheney reignited GOP conflicts after condemning former President Donald Trump’s baseless claim that the November election was stolen from him as a result of widespread voter fraud — now commonly referred to by Democrats as “the Big Lie.”
“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system,” Cheney wrote on Twitter in response to a recently released Trump statement once again asserting his claim.
Several days later, the House GOP conducted a private voice vote to strip Cheney of her position as conference chair, a clear sign of the grip Trump still holds on the party, despite being absent on social media channels and no longer in office. Yet the White House is avoiding wading too deeply into the partisan infighting.
“And our belief, [President Biden’s] belief, is that the American people will have to make their own decisions about whether the reaction by the people they’ve elected to represent them should be embracing and elevating conspiracies and attacks on our democracy,” Psaki said, “or whether it should be standing up for ideals that have historically been owned by both Democrats and Republicans representing the country throughout history.”
Biden has previously remarked that he “doesn’t understand” GOP disdain of Cheney’s challenge to Trump’s accusations, though he declined to call out any particular Republicans by name. On the same day as Cheney’s ouster, Biden met with all four members of congressional leadership, including Trump defender House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who openly advocated for Cheney’s removal.
When asked by reporters prior to their meeting in the Oval Office if McCarthy could be trusted, Biden said, “Yes.”
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