Will Republicans Remain the Party of Trump?

Donald Trump is no longer in the White House, but the former U.S. president’s influence is still keenly felt on Capitol Hill, where the January 6 rioting by his supporters has created deep divisions within the Republican Party.House Republicans planned to meet Wednesday to decide the futures of two members of their caucus on opposite sides of the debate over Trump: Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking Republican leader in the House, and freshman Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who has expressed support for far-right conspiracy views, including those of QAnon.At issue is whether to strip the pro-Trump Greene of her committee assignments and whether to remove Cheney from the Republican leadership team for her vote to impeach Trump. Those decisions will force a reckoning on whether Republicans remain loyal to Trump and his supporters or move away from his influence.Ten House Republicans voted with Democrats January 13 to impeach Trump for inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last month. Cheney, the only woman on her party’s leadership team, was the highest-ranking Republican to vote for impeachment. She released a statement so strongly condemning Trump that it was cited by Democratic House impeachment managers in their trial brief.FILE – Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 17, 2019.’Never been a greater betrayal’“None of this would have happened without the President,” Cheney wrote in a January 12 statement assigning blame for the riot at the Capitol that left five people dead, including a police officer, and temporarily stopped the counting of Electoral College votes that showed Democrat Joe Biden the winner of the November election.“The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” she said.House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — who voted along with 146 other Republicans in favor of overturning the Electoral College results on January 6 — has been careful to not call for Cheney’s removal nor to support what she called a “vote of conscience.” Instead, he told cable network CNN last month that she “has a lot of questions she has to answer.”McCarthy has also been meeting privately with Greene to discuss Democrats’ outrage following the revelation of her social media posts advancing numerous conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and mass school shootings, as well as her liking a Facebook post calling for the execution of Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.Greene has said her social media posts are managed by several people and that she does not see all of them. In a Tweet Wednesday, Greene responded to these allegations, writing that Democrats “are only set out to destroy Republicans, your jobs, our economy, your children’s education and lives, steal our freedoms, and erase God’s creation.” Earlier this week, Greene said she had spoken with Trump and had his continuing support.FILE – Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, wears a “Trump Won” face mask as she arrives to take her oath of office as a newly elected member of the U.S. House, in Washington, Jan. 3, 2021.Democrats’ moveHouse Democrats, who control the chamber, have taken the unusual step of filing a resolution that would strip Greene of her committee assignments, denying her one of the most important responsibilities a lawmaker can fulfill.House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland announced Wednesday that the full House would vote Thursday on removing Greene from those assignments. “I spoke to Leader McCarthy this morning and it is clear there is no alternative to holding a floor vote on the resolution to remove Rep. Greene from her committee assignments,” Hoyer said in a statement.The freshman Georgia lawmaker cannot be ousted from her congressional seat, but the Democrats could unite to deny her committee assignments.This push by the Democrats to punish Greene has put McCarthy in a tough position. He has to decide whether to stand by Greene, whom Trump has praised as a “rising star” in the party, or punish her in response to demands from Democrats and some in his own party.Similarly, McCarthy appears to be struggling to determine whether to back Cheney in the face of growing Republican criticism of her impeachment vote or support removing her from her party leadership position while she remains a House member.FILE – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 12, 2020.Trump impeachment trialThe controversies over Greene and Cheney come as the Senate is poised to begin an impeachment trial of Trump, who has been accused of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol. Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice and will be the first to undergo an impeachment trial after leaving office.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, took the unusual step of commenting on House matters earlier this week, not naming Greene in a statement but saying “loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country.”Describing the Capitol riot last month, McConnell said, “The mob had been fed lies by the president and other powerful people.” A conviction of Trump in the Senate trial is unlikely since 17 Republicans in the chamber would need to vote along with all 50 Democrats to reach the two-thirds majority needed. Last week, 45 of the 50 Senate Republicans voted in favor of a resolution calling the impeachment trial of a former president unconstitutional.  

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