HELENA — U.S. Representative Matt Rosendale (R-MT) supported the Wednesday ouster of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from U.S. House GOP leadership, saying her criticism of ex-President Trump’s claims of election- rigging “detracted” from the party’s message.
“As the (Republican) Conference chair, she is supposed to help us craft and deliver a positive message for the Republican Party so that we can secure the majorities back, in ’22, and move forward,” he told MTN News. “She was embroiled in this personality (fight) with the former President Trump and that wasn’t good for the conference.”
House Republicans removed her in a closed-door vote Wednesday morning, from her position as Republican Conference chair, the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. House.
Rosendale said it was over quickly and that Cheney made a “fairly defensive and divisive speech that was not accepted very well across the conference.”
The Washington Post reported that Cheney told fellow Republicans if they “want leaders who will enable and spread (Trump’s) destructive lies, I’m not your person, but you have plenty of other to choose from.”
Cheney has been vocal in denouncing Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him or that the election was marred by voter fraud. She also was among 10 Republican House members who voted in January to impeach him a second time, for his role in the Jan. 6 riot and assault on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.
When asked if he agreed with Trump that the election had been stolen, Rosendale said, “a lot of fraud and irregularities were raised over the last election.”
“I don’t know if we’ll ever know the total extent of the problems that took place in the last election,” he said. “What I will tell you is that they have been severe enough that we’ve got state legislatures across the nation, that are revising their election laws to make sure they can be conducted in a fair and honest fashion.”
Republican-led legislatures in many states have been passing multiple laws that restrict voting or make it more difficult to vote. Trump’s claims of voter fraud or other alleged misconduct involving the election have been widely rejected by courts or state election officials.
Rosendale also wouldn’t say whether he thought President Biden had been legitimately elected. He acknowledged that Biden will be president until 2024, when “I’m very hopeful that we can replace him.”
“President Biden was sworn in and I personally attended the inaugurations because I do believe in these institutions,” Rosendale said.
Rosendale said he hasn’t decided who he’ll support as Cheney’s successor for conference chair, but that he’s looking forward to a process that will allow members to “vet” and choose that person. Whoever it is must help carry forth Republicans’ message, on expanding the economy, securing the U.S. borders, getting children back to school and standing up to China, he said.
“We can talk about a lot of things, but there is a huge difference between the current Biden admin and what their goals are,” Rosendale said. “We have an open border, dangerously aggressive China … We have chaos in the Middle East.
“Peace and prosperity are gone. What we have now is war and poverty, and we need a conference leader that is going to help us deliver that message."