What Liz Cheney told Republican colleagues before they quickly voted her out

Cheney warned those who 'enable' Trump could harm their 'legacy'

Rep. Liz Cheney spoke to her colleagues in the House Republican Conference on Wednesday morning shortly before she was ousted as the conference chair by a voice vote.

Fox News obtained her comments from a source who was in the room. In the short speech, Cheney hammered former President Donald Trump for what she said are "efforts to unravel our democracy" and warned that those who "enable" Trump risk tarnishing their legacy. She also prayed, quoting John 8:32. 

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said Cheney got a standing ovation for her remarks, despite the fact she was still ousted shortly after in the brief meeting. 

Below are Cheney's comments, according to the source familiar with them. 

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., arrives to speak to reporters after House Republicans voted to oust her from her leadership post as chair of the House Republican Conference, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., arrives to speak to reporters after House Republicans voted to oust her from her leadership post as chair of the House Republican Conference, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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"I am going to take a moment of personal privilege and then we will have the prayer and pledge.

"I have tremendous affection and admiration for many of you in this room. I know we all came to Washington to do important work for the nation. History has chosen every single one of us. And history has put us here together at this moment of challenge for our country.

"Our nation needs this Republican Party as a strong party based on truth so we can shape the future.

"To do that, we must be true to our principles and to the Constitution. 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.

"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.

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"But I promise you this, after today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism, to defending our republic, to making the GOP worthy again of being the party of Lincoln.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks to reporters after House Republicans voted to oust her from her leadership post as chair of the House Republican Conference because of her repeated criticism of former President Donald Trump for his false claims of election fraud and his role in instigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks to reporters after House Republicans voted to oust her from her leadership post as chair of the House Republican Conference because of her repeated criticism of former President Donald Trump for his false claims of election fraud and his role in instigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

"Let us pray,

"'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.

"Help us to speak the truth and remember the words of John 8:32 - 'Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.'

"May our world see the power of faith. May our nation know the strength of selfless service. And may our enemies continue to taste the inescapable force of freedom.

"In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen."

As many Republicans are aiming to move on from the presidential election and Trump's false claims that it was stolen – and still others are saying that the party needs the help of the former president in the midterms – consensus emerged that Cheney's regular broadsides against Trump were counterproductive. 

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., said Cheney was becoming a "distraction" for Republicans. 

"Today's vote shows that Republicans are united behind one goal: taking back the House," Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, added. 

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Others in the conference were less reserved about Cheney's removal from party leadership. 

"Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye Liz Cheney," Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., tweeted. 

The most likely replacement for Cheney as conference chair is Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., a staunch Trump defender. Stefanik has the backing of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.

Fox News' Caroline McKee contributed to this report.