Over 100 prominent Republicans are threatening to split from the GOP amidst its continued support of former president Donald Trump and the ouster of his vocal critic, Wyoming representative Liz Cheney, as divisions in the party hit breaking point.
The anti-Trump members are preparing to release a letter this week, hitting out at the former president’s grip on the GOP and threatening to form a third party unless certain demands are met, The New York Times and Reuters report.
“When in our democratic republic, forces of conspiracy, division, and despotism arise, it is the patriotic duty of citizens to act collectively in defense of liberty and justice,” the statement opens, according to The Times.
A struggle for power in the GOP has ensued since Mr Trump officially left the White House, with the party becoming increasingly divided over the former president’s future standing in the party.
Mr Trump himself has continued to launch personal and political attacks on those who voted to impeach him during his second Senate trial following the Capitol insurrection on 6 January.
"Right now, it’s basically the Titanic. We’re in the middle of this slow sink. We have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it’s fine," Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger who voted to impeach, told Reuters.
In particular, the president has moved to ostracise those who voted against him during his second impeachment trial, lobbying for them to be replaced with those in support of his continued leadership.
Ms Cheney, who has offered continued criticism of the former president, has borne much of the brunt of his personal and political attacks, with Mr Trump having branded the House chair a “warmongering fool”.
Ms Cheney, however, has insisted she “will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”
On Wednesday, Republican members moved to oust Ms Cheney as the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives in a voice vote.
They have framed her expulsion as an effort for “unity”, however, the move will likely only divide the party further.
“This is a first step,” said Miles Taylor, a former Trump White House official who later turned on the former president, told The Times of the breakaway move dubbed a “Call For American Renewal”.
He said: “This is us saying that a group of more than 100 prominent Republicans think that the situation has gotten so dire with the Republican Party that it is now time to seriously consider whether an alternative might be the only option.”
Signatories of the letter reportedly include former officials at both the state and national level including former governors, members of Congress, ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, state legislators, and Republican Party chairman.
Mr Taylor declined to identify people by name, but Reuters reported that Republican governors Tom Ridge, Christine Todd Whitman and George W Bush-era Transportation Secretary Mary Peters are among those supporting the threatened breakaway.
A spokesman for Mr Trump, Jason Miller, told Reuters: “These losers left the Republican Party when they voted for Joe Biden."
The dissidents are calling for the GOP to return to "principled" leadership, overturn continued polarisation and conspiracy theories, or go up against a new coalition of Republicans.
Additional reporting from agencies
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