Former President Trump is no longer the leader of the Republican Party, House GOP conference chair Liz Cheney said Monday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy should be considered the national heads of the party, she said.
"I think our elected leaders are the ones who are in charge," she said in response to a question from a reporter about the role Mr. Trump should play in the party going forward. "And I think as we look at '22 and '24, we're very much going to be focused on substance and on the issues."
Cheney was among only 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump after the deadly January 6 riot at the Capitol. Last week, she told reporters she hadn't invited the former president to the party's issues conference, held outside of Orlando this year. She has urged Republicans to refocus their attention on legislating and messaging.
"I think that's where we've got to attract back the voters that we lost in 2020 by conveying to them that, in fact, we are the party that they can trust. We're the party of competence and of conservative principles," Cheney said Monday.
Cheney's rejection of Mr. Trump represents a splintering within the GOP, and it has stuck a target on her back. The former president, who was acquitted in a Senate trial, vowed to support any primary opponent against her next year. Within weeks, Representative Matt Gaetz travelled to Wyoming to campaign against Cheney, and the state Republican Party voted to censure her.
But any damage such efforts may have inflicted on Cheney has not yet materialized. After she voted for his impeachment, Mr. Trump's allies in the House attempted to remove Cheney from her post as conference chair. McCarthy defended Cheney before House Republicans voted on her removal, and the effort failed.
In the first three months of the year, Cheney raised nearly $1.6 million, including from five Republican senators. Among them were McConnell and Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally.