House conservatives piles on Cheney at GOP conference meeting

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Members of the conservatives House Freedom Caucus tore into Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) during a heated GOP conference meeting on Tuesday, lobbing attacks at her for breaking with President Donald Trump, supporting Dr. Anthony Fauci and backing a primary opponent to one of their colleagues.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a Freedom Caucus co-founder and one of Trump’s top allies, called out Cheney for all the times she has opposed Trump and began ticking off some recent high-profile examples, according to two sources in the room. While Jordan praised her defense of Trump during impeachment, he also said Cheney’s recent rebukes of Trump — which have focused on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, his Twitter rhetoric, and his foreign policy — were not helpful.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the head of the Freedom Caucus, even accused Cheney of undermining the GOP’s ability to win back the House back and said that if someone has a problem with Trump, they should keep it to themselves.

Cheney responded to the criticism from her colleagues by saying she disagrees with Jordan’s assessment and making clear her views are her own.

To Jordan, whose arch-conservative Freedom Caucus was a pain in the side of GOP leadership when they were in the majority, Cheney said: “I look forward to hearing your comments about being a team player when we’re back in the majority,” according to two sources in the room.

The pile-on came during the House GOP’s first in-person meeting in months, with large in-person gatherings mostly replaced by conference calls during the pandemic. And after Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) tested positive for coronavirus last week, leadership stepped up their safety precautions for the meeting by requiring masks and temperature checks at the door.

The venting session began when Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) got on the microphone to complain about Cheney supporting a Republican primary challenger to Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Biggs also defended Massie and expressed their concerns about GOP lawmakers playing in primaries involving their colleagues.

Cheney told Massie his issue is with Trump, not her, since the president has openly called for Massie’s ouster. But Massie insisted his issue was indeed with Cheney. Meanwhile, Cheney responded to Gaetz by telling him she looks forward to seeing his HBO documentary.

But the attacks on Cheney didn’t end there. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) complained about Cheney’s support of Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and pointed out that his Democratic opponent for November's general election even retweeted one of Cheney’s tweet praising Fauci.

The Wyoming congresswoman responded by defending Fauci and saying they should focus on defeating the virus, not launching attacks against individuals who are trying to make that happen.

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