The perils of working on a fragile ice shelf. The location of the Halley VI and the former site of the Halley V research stations are marked on this satellite image, showing the location of two cracks that create an unacceptable risk for scientists staying at Halley VI station this winter.
As Republican lawmakers expelled Rep. Liz Cheney from her House leadership post on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers and progressive observers—who stand staunchly opposed to her policy positions—sounded the alarm over what they say is the grave threat to U.S. democracy posed by a party in thrall to former President Donald Trump's "Big Lie."
"What we are witnessing on the right when it comes to not acknowledging the outcome of the 2020 election is a symptom of mass psychosis, a collective delusion hinged on a Big Lie that is incompatible with democracy."
—Sen. Alex Padilla
Cheney (R-Wyo.) was ousted from her position as chair of the House Republican Conference by voice vote during a closed-door session Wednesday morning for what many of her GOP colleagues consider the cardinal offense of vocally opposing Trump's efforts to undermine the 2020 election.
"Remaining silent and ignoring the lie only emboldens the liar," she added. "I will not participate in that."
While there is no love lost between Cheney and progressives—who have called her a "xenophobic extremist," a "warmonger," and worse—some left-leaning observers noted the larger significance and ominous implications of her purge.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted following Wednesday's GOP House vote that while "Cheney and I disagree on nearly every major issue, she deserves credit for saying, 'I will not sit back and watch in silence as others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president's crusade to undermine our democracy.'"
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that "what we are witnessing on the right when it comes to not acknowledging the outcome of the 2020 election is a symptom of mass psychosis, a collective delusion hinged on a Big Lie that is incompatible with democracy."
"We must treat this threat with the seriousness it deserves," he added.
As GOP officials move to fill the now-vacant leadership post in the coming weeks, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) remains widely considered as a front-runner for the seat, despite serious conservative concerns about a voting record that earned her a 37% score from the right-wing advocacy group FreedomWorks.
Cheney, on the other hand, almost always cast votes in line with Trump's policy positions. And despite her defiant denunciation of lies and liars, she remained tight-lipped amid the unending deluge of deception by Trump, who New Yorker staff writer Susan B. Glasser called "the most mendacious president in U.S. history."
In a post decrying Cheney's "fraudulent martyrdom," Discourse Blog co-founder Paul Blest lamented how the archconservative congresswoman "has been rapidly turned into the Joan of Arc of American democracy, burned at the stake for the heresy of believing in our beloved institutions."
Other progressives also weighed in on the danger of the Cheney martyrdom narrative:
While discussing Cheney's impending removal on Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) insisted the move is "not about right or wrong," but rather "about the focus of our conference." Critics pointed to Scalise's remarks as evidence that the congresswoman's ignominious ouster proves that to many Republicans, Trump loyalty trumps not only truth, but also policy.
Progressives also questioned the GOP leadership's priorities:
Meanwhile, purveyors of Trump's "Big Lie" crowed triumphantly over Cheney's demotion, while making sweeping statements about the future of the Republican Party that some Democratic critics wryly refuted.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said of Wednesday's GOP House vote that "the dangerous evolution of the Republican Party into an anti-truth, autocratic cult has never been more clear, or our need to defeat it."
As for Cheney's future, some progressives speculated that the congresswoman—who now faces a primary challenge in next year's midterm election—may have her sights set on a bigger prize down the road.
"Cheney's a hyper-partisan, ideologically-inflexible political strategist who is playing the long game, just as her father did over the course of a political career that began in the Nixon White House during the Vietnam War," wrote John Nichols for The Capital Times.
After removing Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming from her congressional leadership post, U.S. House Republicans are now expected to vote on installing a new conference chair on Friday. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin, might be in the running.
The Daily Caller first reported that Roy is considering a bid to challenge Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who has been openly campaigning for the post. The political newsletter Punchbowl News later confirmed the news.
"While not ruling anything out, Congressman Roy has never sought a position in conference leadership. His focus is on serving Texas' 21st Congressional district, the American people, and the Constitution. But if the position must be filled, then this must be a contested race — not a coronation," Roy's office said in a statement.
Elected in 2018, Roy has sided with pro-Trump positions nearly 90% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. Cheney ascended to the Republican conference chair position as a sophomore herself in 2019 after first being elected in 2016.
But Roy has proven more willing to question Trump than some of his Republican colleagues in the Texas delegation, like Rep. Ronny Jackson of Amarillo, who tweeted about voting against Cheney and tacked on a "#MAGA" hashtag at the end of his tweet.
When Trump faced his second impeachment, Roy said Trump "deserves universal condemnation for what was clearly impeachable conduct — pressuring the vice president to violate his oath to the Constitution to count the electors." Even so, Roy voted against Trump's second impeachment, unlike Cheney, basing his decision on the kind of precedent he thought it would set for political speech.
Stefanik has become a serious contender for the third highest spot in Republican House leadership, mainly for being a staunch supporter of the former president. She has won the endorsement of Trump himself as well as support from GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy of California. But Roy and some other Republicans have raised concern about her voting record, which is more moderate than Cheney's.
Roy penned a memo to Republican colleagues Wednesday, not only lambasting Cheney, but also opposing Stefanik's campaign to become the new GOP conference chair, accusing the upstate New York Republican of campaigning as a Republican but "then vote for and advance the Democrats' agenda once sworn in."
"Therefore, with all due respect to my friend, Elise Stefanik, let us contemplate the message Republican leadership is about to send by rushing to coronate a spokesperson whose voting record embodies much of what led to the 2018 ass-kicking we received by Democrats," Roy said.
According to CNN, Stefanik is expected to participate in a forum Wednesday evening organized by the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus where she'll face a slew of questions about her voting record and her plans if she helms the GOP conference.
Amid the turbulence about Cheney's future in the House Republican conference, Roy's campaign sent fundraising emails to bank on the drama, stating that "he was the FIRST to call Cheney out on her anti-Trump and self-serving hysterics," and that "his bold leadership will hopefully lead to a big change."
Patrick Svitek contributed reporting.
Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Wednesday refused to meet with a DC Metropolitan police officer who wanted to talk to him about the attack on Jan. 6.
"I just spoke with a very upset Officer Michael Fanone. It's #PoliceWeek and for weeks," tweeted Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), "Fanone has made multiple requests to talk to @GOPLeader. He wants to show McCarthy what he experienced on 1/6. Today he was hung up on by McCarthy's staff. RT if Kevin should meet a hero."
I just spoke with a very upset Officer Michael Fanone. It’s #PoliceWeek and for weeks Ofc. Fanone has made multiple… https://t.co/uqE6z59kdT— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@Rep. Eric Swalwell) 1620848218.0
Michael Fanone was the DC Metropolitan police officer who had a heart attack and concussion during the attack. In a conversation with CNN host Don Lemon, Fanone said that he has suffered serious post-traumatic stress disorder and thought that during the attack he was about to die.
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