Donald Trump is the undisputed leader of the US Republican Party – and you can't cross the boss.
That is the resounding message from the party after senior Republican veteran Liz Cheney was dumped from her House leadership post on Wednesday (local time) for her consistent repudiation of Mr Trump’s election falsehoods.
Meeting behind closed doors, GOP lawmakers needed less than 20 minutes and a voice vote to oust the Wyoming congresswoman from her job as their number three House leader.
The banishment, urged by Trump and other top Republicans, showed the former president's ability to upend the careers of antagonists, even those from Republican royalty. Liz Cheney is the elder daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney.
Following the vote, she insisted she’ll keep trying to wrench the party away from the former president and his "destructive lies".
With the writing on the wall, the 54-year-old delivered a defiant speech on the floor of congress on Tuesday (local time), saying her party was emboldening a liar, accusing Trump of undermining the country's democracy.
"We must speak the truth. Our election was not stolen. And America has not failed," she said.
"Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar."
With no end to his social media bans in sight, Trump railed against his party nemesis from his new blog.
"Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being. I watched her yesterday and realised how bad she is for the Republican Party," he wrote, referring to the much-lauded speech.
"She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country."
Online, Democrat congressman Ted Lieu was among those to label Cheney's speech as "remarkable".
Republican Party 'diseased and dangerous'
The vote to oust Cheney from leadership unequivocally shows Trump's stranglehold over the party, which initially showed signs of trying to move away from him after the election defeat.
Cheney’s critics say her sin isn't her view of Trump but her persistence in publicly expressing it, undermining the unity they want party leaders to display in advance of next year’s elections, when they hope to win House control.
Several also say Trump's enduring appeal to voters in the party's base means its electoral prospects without him would be dismal.
Cheney’s ouster effectively means the GOP is setting a remarkable requirement for admission to its highest ranks: adherence to, or at least silence about, Trump’s baseless election claims.
In a scathing opinion piece in The New York Times following the vote, Peter Wehner, who served in three Republican administrations under Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush, said Republicans have continued to "detach themselves from reality".
He called the vote "confirmation that the Republican Party is diseased and dangerous, increasingly subversive and illiberal, caught in the grip of what Ms Cheney described in The Washington Post as the 'anti-democratic Trump cult of personality'."
According to the Associated Press, before the vote she told her colleagues: "If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person."
Trump has all but confirmed he will run for president again in 2024 with a party clearly willing to usher him into the candidacy.
Except Cheney, that is. Speaking to reporters after the vote, she said: “I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”
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