And as long as we’re talking about how the circular firing squad in the Coup Klux Klan are polishing their weapons with long, slow, strokes, we turn again to Politico/Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Brother Pierce!) email thingie (enigmatic emboldening is theirs; note: I’m combing reporting from BOTH their email thingies):
You might have missed it, but last week Cheney seemed to endorse the idea of a 9/11-style commission to investigate Jan. 6. Her move came after Speaker NANCY PELOSI agreed to give equal subpoena power and representation to both parties. McCarthy has been notably holding out on making a deal, pushing Pelosi to expand the probe to include extremism on the left, too.
The reality is that any bipartisan commission on Jan. 6 would almost certainly include a subpoena of McCarthy, whose call with Trump will become a central focus of any investigation. That would put McCarthy in a tough spot, forced to recount on record things Trump may not want out there. Some Republicans believe Cheney’s endorsement of the commission — undercutting McCarthy’s position — put him over the edge.
BANKING ON IT?: When sharks smell blood, they start circling. With growing talk among House Republicans about ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as GOP conference chair, it seems the sharks have arrived.
One such shark? Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the head of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), is acting like a shadow chair of the House GOP conference, essentially using his RSC platform to help build out a messaging operation that competes with Cheney’s formal operation, Melanie reports.
Per my colleague: “Banks’ effort to assemble a rival messaging machine is widely viewed by his colleagues as an audition for Cheney’s job, which governs both communications and member services. That position may be available sooner than he expected: Tensions over Cheney’s outspoken criticism of former President Donald Trump are once again at a boiling point inside the GOP conference, with some senior Republicans predicting she’ll be pushed out of leadership before month’s end.”
He’s not hiding his interest in the position.
“If there’s a role to play, where I can continue to do what I’m doing as RSC Chairman, I want to do it,” Banks said, when Mel asked him whether he’d run for leadership. “The most natural comparison to RSC chair is conference chair … And that’s something I think I would really enjoy because it’s what I’m doing now.”
OK, so we now know the name of a player who wants her job. Remember that name.
Your Huddle host and Melanie talked to various members who have skin in the game on Cheney, and here is what we’ve gathered:
-Another vote on her future feels almost inevitable at this point, although a lot of members are waiting for cues from McCarthy. Cheney has been underestimated before — last round, she won in a 145-61 secret ballot vote…but she has lost support since then.
–As for timing, senior Republicans seem to think things will come to a head before they break for their Memorial Day recess. The House GOP meets next Wednesday for their weekly conference meeting. McCarthy could call for a vote or a rank-and-file member could force one.
-During the last Cheney vote, there was no agreed upon replacement. Discussions on that are happening now, though they are still in the fledgling stages. Banks is clearly after the role, but other names being floated include Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Mike Johnson (R-La.), vice chair of the House Republican Conference.
Note that only one (1!) woman is named as a possible replacement for the only woman in GQP leadership! Who knew that Republican women would stand in solidarity with a sister in trouble… wait, what’s that you say, Axios:
What we’re hearing: Most members recognize Cheney can’t be succeeded by a white man, given their top two leaders — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) — fill that demographic.
- Selling such a team in a midterm year would compound the GOP’s challenges with suburban women.
- The conference meets next Wednesday, May 12. Most members expect the process to oust Cheney to begin then, whether formally or informally, after some of McCarthy’s top lieutenants broadened their complaints against her.
- It would take up to a two-thirds vote of the 212 caucus members to replace her — a relatively high bar if a secret ballot is held.
Between the lines: The criticism prompted immediate speculation about her replacement. Republican Hill sources told Axios the list could include:
- Stefanik (R-N.Y.): Widely seen as a rising star in the party, she gained popularity for fiercely defending Trump during his first impeachment.
- Wagner (R-Mo.): A member of Congress since 2013, she was initially considered a potential replacement to Cheney as conference chair when she was considering running for Senate.
- Wagner is now debating whether to run for the seat that Sen. Roy Blunt (R-M0.) is vacating due to retirement.
- Walorski (R-Ind.): She also has served in the House since 2013 and is the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee. She serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
- Walorski is well-liked within the party and is seen as someone who wouldn’t cause waves in leadership.
But, but, but: Several aides mentioned Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) since she previously served as chairwoman of the House GOP conference from 2012 to 2018.
- Some also think Rodgers could be “a good placeholder” before the next leadership elections, one leadership aide told Axios.
- Nonetheless, Rodgers was recently selected as the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, something many aides don’t think she’d want to relinquish.
Worth noting: None of these women voted to impeach Trump this year or in 2019.
We return to Politico:
-Some big GOP donors are adding to the ouster calls by sayingthat as long as Cheney is in leadership, they won’t be giving any more money, one senior House Republican told me. Some donors, when they realize members are fundraising to pay off their NRCC dues, also say they want commitments that none of their money will make its way to Cheney. “I mean they’re just so frustrated by her,” the member told me, before adding: “She’s writing her own obituary.”
BLAME THE SKIRT!!1! She’s writing her own obit for not drinking the Kool Aid, remember that, too.
-Some Republicans are speculating that she is trying to make herself into a martyr — it’s more striking to go down for a cause rather than simply fade out. They point to how, as the anger is fomenting, she continues to press her message. Most recently, she tweeted about the “big lie” Monday.
A Republican strapping on the ol’ suicide vest? Most of that party nails themselves to the cross daily. They all think that they are martyrs.
Anyway, here’s K-Mac this morning:
Don’t lose sight of “the message” – what they object to is that Cheney says that Donald Trump lost the election fairly and then tried to overturn it; their message is that the 2020 Election was stolen and that Stupid Coup didn’t happen. That’s it.