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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week condemned Republican efforts to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as House GOP conference chair.

Why it matters: A number of Democrats have spoken out against attempts to punish Cheney for her criticism of former President Trump, framing the discussion as one essential to the maintenance of American democracy.

What they're saying: Pelosi said the GOP is, "punishing Members who tell the truth" about Trump's election loss and his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, per a statement posted to her website.

  • "Nothing less is at stake than out democracy," Pelosi said in an interview with PBS on Wednesday.
  • "Maybe she's more, shall we say, compliant," Pelosi said in reference to Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who has been floated as Cheney's replacement as House Republican conference chair.
  • Pelosi praised Cheney for her courage in speaking out.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also waded into the debate on Thursday, tweeting that Cheney will likely lose her leadership position for the crime of "acknowledging the reality that Trump lost the election."

  • "The Republican Party is no longer a 'conservative' party. It is an anti-democratic cult pushing the Big Lie and conspiracy theories," Sanders added.

Go deeper

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!"

May 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Liz Cheney's long game

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.

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.