Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) staged a rally in Wyoming on Thursday targeting Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) over her impeachment vote, with the Florida congressman telling the crowd that former President Donald Trump had coached him ahead of his speech, highlighting the degree to which the former president is hoping to sway the direction of the party out of office.
Gaetz, a fierce Trump ally, traveled to Cheney’s turf to call on GOP leadership to remove Cheney as conference chair and urge Wyoming voters to defeat the congresswoman in a primary.
Speaking to hundreds outside the state Capitol in Cheyenne, Gaetz blasted Cheney for being “disloyal” and claimed she was “deeply unpopular and owned by special interests.”
Gaetz told the crowd he spoke to Trump the night before, and that the former president wanted him to share a poll suggesting Cheney was in trouble in her district.
At one point in the 25-minute speech, Gaetz put Donald Trump Jr. on speaker phone, who proceeded to blast the congresswoman’s poll numbers in the state.
The eldest Trump son encouraged voters to find the right candidate to oust Cheney during the next primary: “Don’t just back the first person that comes along,” he said.
Cheney’s office directed Forbes to a statement from Amy Edmonds, a former Wyoming state representative, who said of Gaetz: “Wyoming doesn’t like it when outsiders come into our state and try to tell us what to do.”
43. That’s how many signatures it will take for Republicans to hold a special meeting about Cheney’s leadership position, 20% of the 211 member caucus. For Cheney to then be removed, two-thirds of the caucus would need to vote in favor of the maneuver.
Angry about the vote and backlash from Republicans over his role in the Capitol riots, Trump was rumored to have considered forming a new political party. Instead, he reportedly backed down from that idea last week, deciding instead to help pro-Trump Republicans in primaries.
Cheney directly blamed Trump for inciting the mob at the Capitol, saying he “lit the flame of this attack.” Trump’s impeachment trial is set to begin the week of February 9.
Some Republicans have flocked to Cheney’s defense, including Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) who said the congresswoman “has been and continues to be a highly effective and valuable member of our Wyoming delegation.”
What To Watch For
Days after Cheney’s vote, Wyoming state Senator Anthony Bouchard announced he would run against the congresswoman in a primary.