Trump supports Elise Stefanik for House GOP conference chair amid Liz Cheney feud: sources

Trump has been feuding with Cheney for months

Former President Donald Trump supports Rep. Elise Stefanik to replace Rep. Liz Cheney as the House Republican conference chair, sources close to the former president tell Fox News.

In a statement Monday, Trump called Cheney a "warmonger" with "virtually no support left in the Great State of Wyoming," and repeated his past false statements that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Cheney has repeatedly pushed back on Trump's false statements about the election. Trump also endorsed Stefanik in a separate statement. 

"Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership," Trump said. "We want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again movement, and prioritize the values of America First. Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!"

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Stefanik, R-N.Y., has been making calls to gin up support for a challenge to Cheney, R-Wyo., Fox News confirmed this week. She has gained the support of top House Republicans as well, including Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.

"House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker Pelosi and President Biden's radical socialist agenda, and Elise Stefanik is strongly committed to doing that, which is why Whip Scalise has pledged to support her for Conference Chair," Scalise spokesperson Lauren Fine told Fox News.

A House GOP leadership source told Fox News that a vote next week on Cheney's status as the conference chair is "more than likely." 

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"Liz will have more to say in the coming days. This moment is about much more than a House leadership fight," Cheney spokesperson Jeremy Adler told Fox News Wednesday.

Fox News is told to expect a no-confidence vote on Cheney as the conference chair on Wednesday when House Republicans meet for a regular meeting. It would take a petition of 50 members to move for a vote on Cheney's leadership position, or Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., could move for a vote himself.

If Cheney is removed, there would be a separate vote to elect a new conference chair, for which Stefanik is likely to be nominated. Others could be nominated as well. But two Stefanik's potential opponents, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., won't run to succeed Cheney if she is removed, Fox News is told. 

McCarthy, who supported Cheney in February when there was another vote to remove her as conference chair, has abandoned Cheney as well. 

"There's no concern about how she voted on impeachment, that decision has been made. I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair to carry out the message," McCarthy said on "Fox & Friends" Tuesday. "We all need to be working as one if we're able to win the majority. Remember, majorities are not given. They are earned. And that's about the message about going forward, combating Joe Biden."

McCarthy continued to say that Republicans should "all work together instead of attacking one another."

Cheney and Trump have for years been relatively cool to each other, as the former president ran in 2016 as a non-establishment Republican who is different from the GOP of the Bush-Cheney era. But the rift between the two exploded after Trump's false statements that the 2020 election was stolen and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

Cheney was one of only 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump, and has been more vocal than almost any Republican nationwide in aiming to the GOP from Trump, even as most in the House GOP have sought to mend fences with the former president. 

"This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on Jan 6. Liz will not do that. That is the issue," Adler said Tuesday.

"The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system," Cheney herself tweeted Monday. 

In a sign of slipping support for Cheney compared to where she stood when she defeated the effort to remove her as GOP conference chair in February, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who supported Cheney then, refused support her in an interview with Fox News Tuesday. 

An aide for a moderate Senate Republican, meanwhile, told Fox News that it is unclear what Cheney's end game is as she continues to battle with Trump over the election. 

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"It's sad to me because I really like Rep. Cheney," the aide told Fox News. "I wish she could have just made her point and moved on to fighting Democrats." 

Others on the right, however, have backed Cheney, including prominent conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt and the Wall Street Journal editorial board. 

"It'd be extremely short-sighted and self-destructive for@HouseGOP to move against the very smart @Liz_Cheney," Hewitt tweeted. "You don't win @HouseGOP maj by subtraction but by addition. Not sure this buzz is more than legacy media addiction to 'GOP civil war' narrative but if it is, big mistake."

"Mr. McCarthy knows Ms. Cheney is right. The election wasn't stolen, yet Mr. Trump wants an endorsement of his stolen claim to be a litmus test for every Republican candidate. He’s the one who wants to refight his losing campaign," the Journal wrote. 

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.