Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is all but rolling out the red carpet for her own ouster as House GOP conference chair next week and her expected replacement with Trump defender Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

Why it matters: Cheney’s political falling out with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is the ultimate proxy war between Republicans who remain beholden to a former president who falsely claims the election was stolen from him, or breaking free from Donald Trump to refocus on traditional conservative values.

Driving the news: “We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process,” Cheney wrote Wednesday in a Washington Post op-ed.

  • “I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be."
  • “I am a conservative Republican, and the most conservative of conservative values is reverence for the rule of law.”

Between the lines: In the short term, McCarthy wants to get rid of Cheney so he can refocus on gaining the House majority — and the title of speaker — in 2022.

  • He sees embracing Trump as his ticket to getting there and is willing to steamroll anything getting in his way.
  • In the long term, Cheney thinks her principled stand may not only save the Republican Party but distinguish her as a truth-teller worthy of potentially being president herself one day.

By any measure, the Republican Party should be unified right now.

  • The past is dim: It lost the White House and Senate in November and narrowed the gap but remained in the minority in the House.
  • The future is bright: The party will largely control this year's redistricting battles in the states; the Democrats are seeing their already-narrow House margin threatened by retirements, and history shows the party in power loses seats in midterm elections.
  • Yet none of those factors has convinced McCarthy and his leadership team to disband the circular firing squad.

If plans unfold as expected, the House Republican conference will hold a snap leadership election next week and oust Cheney.

  • Stefanik, who gained national attention for her defense of Trump during his first impeachment trial, will replace her. Stefanik already has the backing of House leadership and Trump, despite being far less conservative than Cheney.
  • Cheney will emerge a political martyr, held up by some Democrats in the short term as a partisan sacrifice despite, at one time, having loathed her, her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and even her mother, Lynne.
  • She'll also have a unique brand compared to the likes of election-deniers such as Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).

Cheney has been baiting this outcome.

  • She's doubled- and tripled-down on her condemnation of the former president — despite his stranglehold on her peers, and his enduring grip on GOP voters across the country.
  • She's also made no secret of her political aspirations. Cheney was raised in a family with an eagle-eyed view of how to advance in Republican politics.
  • Last week, she told the New York Post she isn't ruling out a future presidential run, admitting that she thinks standing her ground after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack is a quality that voters will end up preferring in a 2024 candidate.

Go deeper

Liz Cheney: GOP is "at a turning point"

Photo: Melina Mara-Pool via Getty Images

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) doubled down on her break from former President Trump in an op-ed for the Washington Post on Wednesday, warning the Republican Party must decide whether it's going to "choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution."

Why it matters: The editorial is her most extensive comment since leadership turned on her. Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, has continued to speak out against Trump since her vote to impeach him for inciting the Capitol riots, much to the aggravation of some GOP leaders who now look to oust her.

Updated May 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump, House GOP leaders endorse Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney

Photos: Samuel Corum/Getty Images; Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former President Trump and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise are openly supporting Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to replace Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as House Republican conference chair.

The latest: "Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership," Trump said in a statement. "Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!"

Updated May 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McCarthy: House GOP has "no concern" about Cheney's vote to impeach Trump

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) claimed on "Fox & Friends" Tuesday that the push to oust Rep. Liz Cheney from GOP leadership is not related to her vote to impeach former President Trump, but rather her "ability to carry out the message."

Why it matters: Top Republicans have suggested that Cheney could be removed as GOP conference chair within a month, with Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), leader of the largest conservative caucus in the House, telling Axios that her continued criticisms of Trump are "an unwelcome distraction."

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!