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Muted reactions from W.Va. delegation about voice vote to oust Liz Cheney


In a Republican caucus decision made by voice vote, West Virginia’s congressional delegation went along with the ouster of Liz Cheney as conference chair after she repeatedly challenged former President Trump’s election claims.

“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” Cheney said in a floor speech the night before the caucus vote.

Wednesday’s vote took place behind closed doors, and the voice vote means no roll call was recorded. The process took only 16 minutes, with news outlets reporting it happened so quickly that some members arrived just in time for the vote.

The offices of West Virginia’s congressional representatives described their positions in response to emailed questions by Hoppy Kercheval, host of MetroNews’ “Talkline.” Their initial responses required followup questions to determine how they actually voted.

In particular, the office of Congressman Alex Mooney indicated he would prefer to keep his vote private.

Statements by members of the delegation focused on their view that Republicans should get past the election and the events of Jan. 6 and focus on the Biden administration as well as winning back Congress.

“Our elected leadership team should articulate a coordinated and unifying message for House Republicans to push back on the extreme agenda of President Biden and Speaker Pelosi. While our party should embrace dissenting voices, it is not productive when members of our leadership team distract from that mission,” stated Congressman David McKinley of the state’s 1st Congressional District.

 “It’s time for our party to focus on fighting the massive expansion of government and far-left policies the Biden Administration are pursuing. Moving forward, we need to unify around the goal of stopping these destructive policies and regaining the majority in 2022.”

McKinley’s office noted that he had voted against removing Cheney in a prior February vote.

Asked for clarification on how McKinley participated in the voice vote this time, his office responded “He voted to oust her.”

Congressman Mooney’s office referred to earlier statements and said the congressman would prefer not to state any action on Cheney.

“The Congressman spoke about this on your show. Today’s vote was a voice vote, it wasn’t a recorded vote, and he prefers to keep it to himself.”

The reference to the show was about Mooney’s appearance on “Talkline” on May 6. At the time, Mooney said he wanted to hear how Cheney would react. “She has the right to apologize for her criticisms of Trump, which I think are unfair, and say she won’t do it any more,” he said.

Mooney, who represents West Virginia’s 2nd District, said then that Republicans shouldn’t be fighting among themselves. “Every time she takes a shot at Trump, it causes all these infights. So she needs to stop, obviously, but I don’t think she’s going to.”

The office of Congresswoman Carol Miller, who represents the 3rd District, wrote that she has admired Cheney over the years but that she believes the party should focus on issues other than the president’s statements about the election.

“I thank Congresswoman Cheney for her years-long service as House Republican Conference Chair. It’s time for our Conference to come together and focus on what’s most important for our country – rebuilding the economy, opening our schools, securing our border, and winning back the House in 2022,” Miller stated.

Asked whether that means Miller voiced a vote to remove, her office responded, “Actually, there wasn’t a recorded vote. Congresswoman Miller is not worried about intraparty squabbling. She is 100 percent focused on the future and the issues that affect people’s lives, like the pipeline hack and resulting gas shortage, and the Biden Administration’s failure to address our energy infrastructure. Not for one second is she going to focus on what’s in the rearview mirror.”

Cheney’s comments have been in response to the former president’s continued claims that the 2020 presidential election was upended by “massive fraud,” that it was “rigged” or “stolen” and that he “won by a landslide.” Last week, Trump released a statement saying, “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!”

The president’s supporters were turned back in more than 60 legal challenges across the country, including at the Supreme Court. Multiple recounts in contested states failed to change the overall results. Elections officials in Georgia counted over and over and overwithout substantial change.

The Trump administration’s attorney general, William Barr, publicly said last year “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Trump has been very popular in West Virginia, winning the popular vote in the state with 545,382 votes to Biden’s 235,984.

As the national conversation over the former president’s claims has continued, Miller and Mooney were among members of Congress receiving Fs on a “Democracy Report Card” based on four criteria: signing on to a Texas amicus brief challenging election results in other states, casting votes objecting to Electoral College certification, making statements casting doubt on 2020 election and voting to acquit Trump in the impeachment over his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege.

Several West Virginians face charges from that day’s events. They include George Tanios, a Morgantown sandwich shop operator accused in the assault of three Capitol police officers with pepperspray; Derrick Evans, who resigned as a state delegate after livestreaming himself flowing into the U.S. Capitol; former Parkersburg Councilman Eric Barber, and college senior Gracyn Courtright of Hurricane.

A mob storming the U.S. Capitol that day disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and more than 100 police officers were injured.

Cheney has called for a bipartisan review by a commission with subpoena power to find facts and describe for all Americans what happened Jan. 6.

“Today we face a threat America has never seen before: A former president who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol, in an effort to steal the election, has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him,” Cheney said in her speech the night before the vote to oust her.

Cheney told reporters after Wednesday’s vote that the country needs a Republican Party “that is based upon fundamental principles of conservatism, and I am committed and dedicated to ensuring that that’s how this party goes forward, and I plan to lead the fight to do that.”

She added, “I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”

In his “Talkline” comments a week ago, Mooney said those kinds of statements should stop.

“You asked me ‘What could she do different? She doesn’t have to comment on it,” Mooney said. “Move on. Move on.”