Intrigue continues in the House Republican Caucus, with U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz traveling west with a call for removing the third-ranking member.
In an appearance in Wyoming Thursday, Gaetz addressed a crowd on the steps of that state’s Capitol, drawing applause for a series of pointed one-liners directed at Rep. Liz Cheney, who has become especially vulnerable since voting for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
“We are in a battle for the soul of the Republican Party,” the Panhandle Congressman said. “And I intend to win it.”
Gaetz blasted Cheney and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, in remarks tailored to his “America First” base, with repeated salvos aimed at political action committees, foreign wars, and the Beltway culture writ large.
“We see the fakes and the phonies more clearly than ever before,” Gaetz said to cheers.
If Gaetz had prepared remarks, he didn’t seem to need them. He brought a Don Rickles sense of timing to what, for him, is a very serious debate about the GOP’s future.
The Congressman pounded the practice of “exporting America’s greatest patriots to die in distant foreign lands,” objecting to decades of military expeditions around the globe.
“A nation who sends its best to go fight in the worst places in the world should not send its worst to Congress,” Gaetz said. “America is not some vaccine to global tyranny that we have to administer through decades of military occupations in foreign lands.”
Gaetz called Cheney a “master of the ways of the Beltway in ways I’ll never be.”
“Liz Cheney is a lot like Congress — deeply unpopular and owned by special interests,” Gaetz said. “She’s taken more money from PACs than people. She works for them, not you.”
Gaetz decided to forsake money from political action committees early in 2020.
Another event highlight was a special phone call from Donald Trump Jr., who added his own zingers for Cheney. He urged Wyoming Republicans to unite around one challenger to the state’s only member of Congress.
The division has been one of the most high-profile cases of fissures within the House Republican caucus since Trump’s defeat and second impeachment. Cheney cast one of 10 Republican votes in favor of impeaching Trump after riots that followed failed objections to certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.
Gaetz, in contrast, remains one of Trump’s most ardent defenders, and has continued on the House floor to assert the election was stolen from Trump. During the House impeachment after the riots, Gaetz contended “President Trump may be most likely to be impeached when he is correct.”
But the friction between Gaetz and Cheney goes back further, to when the high-ranking Republican supported a primary challenger to Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie. That move, Gaetz said since, indicated to him it was fine to back primary challengers to House incumbents, as he plans to do against Cheney,