Liz Cheney has been ousted from her position in the House Republican Party leadership.
The party removed Ms Cheney from her post as conference chairwoman by a voice vote because of her opposition to Donald Trump’s election lies.
The motion to remove the Wyoming representative was put forward by Virginia Foxx and supported by GOP leader Kevin McCarthy.
Ms Cheney, speaking during the closed-door meeting with House Republicans, said: “If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy.”
She added: “We cannot let the former president drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy. Down that path lies our destruction, and potentially the destruction of our country.”
There are reports that when Ms Cheney began to speak and criticised the former president, she was booed by some members. However, later she received a round of applause for her leadership.
Ms Cheney offered a prayer during the conference meeting: “Dear God, fill us with a love of freedom and a reverence for all your gifts. Help us to understand the gravity of this moment. Help us to remember that democratic systems can fray and suddenly unravel. When they do, they are gone forever.”
Speaking to reporters after the meeting she added that she does not feel betrayed by today’s vote and is going to keep on fighting to prevent Mr Trump from ever making his way back to the White House.
“We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the constitution ... I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”
As Ms Cheney’s removal was conducted by voice vote, there is no official record of how individual members voted, though many took to Twitter or spoke with reporters following the meeting. One estimate is that three quarters voted against her.
Representative Lance Gooden of Texas, one of the first to publicly call for Ms Cheney to be removed, says in a statement: “Today’s vote shows that Republicans are united behind one goal: taking back the house.”
Mike Kelly, representative for Pennsylvania’s 16th district, justified his vote to remove her on Twitter: “As the representative from Wyoming, Liz Cheney can vote however she wants and answer to her constituents. The job of conference chair is to represent our entire conference, which she has consistently failed to do.”
One of Ms Cheney’s most ardent supporters who also refuses to buy into the “big lie” about the 2020 election promoted by Trump is Illinois representative Adam Kinzinger.
“I’m fully supportive of Liz. What happened today was sad. Liz has committed the only sin of being consistent and telling the truth, the truth is that the election was not stolen,” he said.
Remarking on leader Kevin McCarthy’s calls for unity, the congressman said: “Look, I’m all for unity. I’m all for unity and truth, you know. Truth cannot co-exist with lies. Truth cannot co-exist with false, that you cannot unify with. And I think that’s what Liz has been saying.”
“I stand by Liz. I am proud of her,” he added.
Colorado representative Ken Buck observed: “I believe Liz Cheney was cancelled today for speaking her mind and disagreeing with the narrative the former president has put forth.”
The removal leaves Ms Cheney as a national figure with a huge platform from which to voice her opinion with the authority of someone who chose country over party.
Immediately after her removal, the Wyoming congresswoman sat down for an exclusive interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News.
Ms Cheney’s replacement as conference chair will be voted in on Friday. New York representative Elise Stefanik is the only candidate.
Representing part of upstate New York, Ms Stefanik is reportedly moving to reassure any members of the party who might have reservations about her more moderate voting record.
Ms Stefanik released a letter to her colleagues about a vision to unify the GOP conference and win back the house majority in 2022.
She promises a “disciplined, unified message” from party leadership; a “communications posture on offence every single day”; and to “empower all our members to shine”.
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