Washington (AFP) – Republicans were set to censure two lawmakers Friday in a significant escalation of the drive to oust dissidents seen as disloyal to former US president Donald Trump.
Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the lone Republicans on the House committee investigating Trump’s role in last year’s US Capitol assault, are regarded as adversaries of the ex-president, who retains his iron grip on the party despite losing the 2020 election.
The party’s 168 national committee members, gathered for their winter meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, will vote to approve a formal censure of the pair.
Hardline Trump loyalists have been pushing for months for the two to be expelled, particularly as the investigation into the January 6 2021 insurrection has closed in on the former president’s inner circle.
The measure is expected to get a strong vote of approval from the committee.
But with Kinzinger retiring from Congress after the November midterm elections, and Cheney in danger of losing her Wyoming seat, the party leadership is said to be keen to put the issue behind them.
Republicans are hoping instead to focus on hitting President Joe Biden on his stalled domestic agenda, spiraling inflation and the stubborn pandemic ahead of the midterms.
Cheney responded to news of the censure by doubling down on her Trump criticism.
“The leaders of the Republican Party have made themselves willing hostages to a man who admits he tried to overturn a presidential election and suggests he would pardon January 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy,” she said in a statement Thursday.
“I’m a constitutional conservative and I do not recognize those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump. History will be their judge,” Cheney added. “I will never stop fighting for our constitutional republic. No matter what.”