President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he thinks the Republican Party is going through a “sort of mini-revolution” amid the push by GOP House members to oust Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership position.
“It seems as though the Republican Party is trying to identify what it stands for and they’re in the midst of a significant sort of mini-revolution,” Biden said in response to a question to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins during a White House event.
“I think the Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point,” he added.
Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, has faced growing opposition in her role in the No. 3 House leadership position and party leaders, including former President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have been part of a mounting effort to kick her out. In a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday afternoon, Cheney called on the GOP to support both the ongoing Justice Department investigation into the January 6 Capitol riot as well as a separate, bipartisan congressional commission into the event — a move that is unlikely to gain her any more support among Republicans looking to push her out.
“History is watching. Our children are watching,” Cheney wrote in the op-ed. “We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.”
Though from opposing parties, Biden notably offered Cheney a fist bump last week upon his arrival in the House chamber to deliver his first joint address to Congress. And earlier Wednesday, when asked about the schism among the GOP over Cheney, Biden simply said: “I don’t understand the Republicans.”
Cheney is under fire for saying her party cannot accept the “poison” of the idea that the 2020 election was stolen and should not “whitewash” the January 6 Capitol riot.
“We can’t embrace the notion the election is stolen. It’s a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy,” Cheney recently said behind closed doors at a conference in Sea Island, Georgia. “We can’t whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump’s big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed.”
The President said Wednesday at the White House event that in his years in the Democratic Party, he’s witnessed many internal fights and disagreements, but he can never remember anything like what is happening now within the GOP. He also stressed that he thinks having a two-party system is important for the country.
“We badly need a Republican Party. We need a two-party system. It’s not healthy to have a one-party system,” he said.
And while once a powerhouse of the GOP, Cheney’s criticism of Trump’s attack on democracy and her unwillingness to comply with leadership’s idea that her party should follow Trump, have put her leadership position in danger.
On Wednesday, Trump endorsed Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to replace Cheney as conference chair. And McCarthy has been in contact with the former President about the effort to oust Cheney, according to Trump adviser Jason Miller.
McCarthy said on Fox News on Tuesday that Cheney is not “carrying out the message” of the party and he has been privately supporting Stefanik. The No. 2 member of House Republican leadership, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, has publicly endorsed Stefanik’s bid.
Two sources familiar with Cheney’s conversations with members said the Wyoming Republican feels at peace with where she has stood on the election, on January 6 and her comments about Trump. Her calculation is that it is not worth trying to keep the leadership position if it requires lying about the election or the events that transpired leading up to January 6.