Matt Gaetz says his push to oust Liz Cheney is being encouraged by the Trump family.
Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of Donald J. Trump’s closest allies in Congress, said Monday that the Trump family has given him “nothing but encouragement” in his effort to oust Representative Liz Cheney from her leadership post with House Republicans. But Mr. Gaetz added that he had not spoken to the former president in almost a week, and did not know whether Mr. Trump would get personally involved.
At the moment, the Florida congressman does not have the backing of Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, who said over the weekend that he still supported Ms. Cheney but had “concerns” about her decision to vote to impeach Mr. Trump. Mr. McCarthy said that she did not inform him of her decision first, which he found troubling. “I do think she has a lot of questions she has to answer to the conference,” he said in a recent interview with the journalist Greta Van Susteren.
Though it would be highly unusual for Republicans to remove a member of their leadership, Mr. Gaetz has ratcheted up his public campaign against Ms. Cheney, who represents Wyoming and was one of 10 Republicans who voted last week to impeach Mr. Trump for encouraging his supporters to descend on the Capitol on Jan. 6. Mr. Gaetz is scheduled to travel to Wyoming this week, where he plans to call for Ms. Cheney’s removal as chair of the Republican conference in a rally at the state capitol in Cheyenne.
Speaking to reporters during a conference call on Monday, Mr. Gaetz said that Mr. McCarthy’s only words to him on the subject were to request that he not criticize individual members of Congress by name, given the number of officials who have been receiving death threats.
Initially, Mr. Gaetz said, he complied. “But after Liz became more, I think, problematic in her divergence in her perspective from the conference, it became untenable not to identify her,” he added.
Mr. Gaetz said he believes that most Republican House members agree with him that Ms. Cheney’s views about Mr. Trump are not in line with theirs. Asked whether he felt his presence in Cheyenne could incite more threats against her, he denied that it would. “I don’t know how me going to Wyoming would put Liz Cheney in danger,” he said, noting that she spends much of her time in Washington.
Ms. Cheney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.