WASHINGTON – Several lawmakers and President Donald Trump’s son criticized Rep. Liz Cheney – one even calling for her to step down from her leadership role – due to her critiques of the president and what some members saw as her insufficient support of Trump. 

The attacks on Cheney, the chair of the House Republican Conference and the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress, happened Tuesday morning as House Republicans met for a weekly conference meeting, the first in months due to the coronavirus pandemic. A small group of Republicans, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., stood up in the meeting and blasted Cheney over her differences with the president, including when it comes to foreign policy.  

Gaetz took to his podcast later Tuesday where he continued to blast Cheney and publicly called for her to step aside. 

“Liz Cheney doesn’t view her role as chair of the conference as one of serving the Republican members. She seems to think we’re there to serve her. That’s not leadership,” Gaetz said. “That’s not what we need going into the election. That’s not what President Trump needs.”

Gaetz said he and a handful of members in the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus had stood up in the House Republican meeting to raise questions on how “to stand with our president and to call on Liz Cheney to be a better leader within the Republican conference.”

Gaetz said during the morning meeting, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, cited Cheney’s “opposition to the President’s Afghanistan policy, the President’s Germany policy, the President’s response to coronavirus, her tweets attacking him and frankly, her effort to try to oust republican Thomas Massie.”

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Cheney had supported and donated to Todd McMurty, a primary challenger against Massie, earlier this year after Massie had forced members of Congress to return to Washington for a vote on the coronavirus stimulus package. Cheney later returned the donations after racist tweets from McMurty resurfaced.

She was not alone, though, as the president railed against Massie in March, calling for him to be thrown out of the Republican Party for being a “third rate Grandstander,” after Massie threatened to stand in the way of a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. 

Gaetz’s public attacks were later echoed in tweets by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Donald Trump Jr. 

Trump Jr. accused Cheney of being like Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has also been critical of Trump, and said she advocated for “endless wars.” 

Cheney took the criticism in stride in a press conference with House Republican leadership later Tuesday. 

“Slow news day in the Republican conference,” she joked at the beginning of the conference. 

Cheney indicated she would not step down from her role and said, “Donald Trump Jr. is not a member of the House Republican conference.” She praised a “healthy exchange of views” within the caucus. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stepped to the podium after Cheney finished speaking and added, “we’re honored to have her as conference chair”

The attacks aren’t likely to sway Cheney, a prominent name in the Republican establishment, from continuing to speak out against the president or others when she feels it is warranted. 

The Wyoming Republican, over Trump’s tenure, has taken swipes at the president, mostly over policy differences and on foreign policy. In recent months, her criticisms have extended to Trump insinuating that an MSNBC host may have committed murder and pushing for answers about the administration’s role on intelligence suggesting Russian bounties on American troops overseas. 

After the president refused to wear a face mask in public, Cheney also tweeted a photo of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, in a mask with the hashtag #realmenwearmasks. 

But Cheney, who boasts wide support within the conference and potentially one of the next in line to lead House Republicans, is far from alone. Republicans, especially over the last few months, have repeatedly spoken out about the president and urged for a shift in his messaging as his polls continue to drop. 

After the attacks at the morning House Republican breakfast, Cheney responded to the small group of members and didn’t back down. She told Massie that his issues were not with her but with the president and mocked Gaetz’s criticisms of Republicans in an upcoming HBO documentary, according to a source familiar with the meeting. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Liz Cheney asked by Matt Gaetz to step down after Trump criticisms

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