SUBLETTE COUNTY – U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney is finding some friends – and more enemies – after her January vote to proceed with President Trump’s second impeachment trial.
Traitor or true to the cause? Depends on who you ask.
Some fellow Republican leaders in Congress are angry with her for going against Trump and want her removed from office; others support her decision to vote “her conscience.”
By Feb. 5, half of Wyoming’s 23 county-level Republican parties had voted publicly to condemn Cheney for that action.
Saturday, the Wyoming Republican Party Central Committee met in Rawlins, answering their call with a vote, 57-9, for a resolution to censure and remove Cheney. A number of delegates were unable to attend in person or send proxies due to bad weather along I-80, according to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.
The resolution calls on Cheney to “immediately resign,” stating she “has violated the trust of her voters, failed to faithfully represent a very large majority of motivated Wyoming voters and neglected her duty to represent the party and the will of the people who elected her to represent them,” it reported.
After the state party “put her on notice,” Cheney said Sunday she would not resign.
“As I’ve explained and will continue to explain to supporters all across the state and voters all across the state, the oath that I took to the Constitution compelled me to vote for impeachment, and it doesn’t bend to partisanship and it doesn’t bend to political pressure,” Cheney told Fox News host Chris Wallace.
The Sublette County GOP Central Committee’s official Feb. 4 meeting in Pinedale polled 12 of its 18 precinct committee members present in person or on Zoom along with interested voters from across the county.
Chair Jim Robinson called the meeting after many local Republicans aired grievances against Cheney during an informal meet-and-greet on Jan. 25, where a straw poll showed “most” wanted to censure or remove Cheney. Robinson determined the vote must occur at an official meeting.
“Are we going to discuss Liz Cheney at this meeting tonight?” Curt Covill, proxy for his wife Liz, asked Thursday. The meeting was in the Aspen Room at Aspen Grove.
“I view with some disgust and disappointment the caucus meeting of the House of Representatives of the United States, where 141 members voted to keep Liz Cheney in leadership,” started off Mark Mickelson. “I find Liz Cheney a disappointment to Wyoming.”
He moved to censure but is not on the central committee so Covill made the motion, seconded by precinct committeewoman Fran Robinson.
The plan was to attend the Wyoming Republican Party’s Feb. 6 meeting in Rawlins with the decision in hand.
Neighboring GOP leaders Taylor Allred from Lincoln County and Joey Correnti IV from Carbon County clarified rules and procedures – with the central committee’s quorum, the motion could be made, seconded and opened for discussion.
Precinct committeewoman Debbie Vickrey said the censure vote would speak for itself.
“I can write something up,” Covill said. “Whatever you need.”
He asked what good censuring Cheney does without strong written language.
Vickrey read the definition of “censure,” adding it does not include removal from office.
“It is to let her know we disapprove of this action ‘for’ – not necessarily because of the vote but because she came out before the impeachment trial; she convicted a person before his trial without due process, no witnesses, no evidence, and she voted for it – it’s scary.”
Precinct committeeman Leon “Lee” Covell voted for the censure.
Rep. Albert Sommers, also a precinct committeeman with a vote, said on Zoom that past U.S. House of Representatives’ censures were few and for financial misuse, payroll frauds and inappropriate sexual relationships.
“If you read what the definition of ‘censure’ is, it really is about behavior,” Sommers said. “I don’t support a censure.”
He was okay with sending a letter of disapproval that said Cheney’s action “doesn’t coincide with Sublette County.”
Urbigkit said she supported a “letter of displeasure.”
“I question if the Sublette County Republican Party has any authority to censure Liz Cheney,” she continued. “Liz Cheney is not a member of the Sublette County Republican Party. So I don’t see how Sublette County can censure her.”
Committeewoman Robinson disagreed with Urbgkit: “Liz Cheney certainly does represent … everybody in Sublette County so we do have the authority to censure her if we choose.”
Precinct committeeman Greg Schamber asked, “Have we thought about potential ramifications?”
What if Cheney felt “vindictive” and “runs down the list and sees Sublette County? We’re going to need more help (in the next two years of her term).”
Precinct committeeman Walt Bousman echoed concerns of “political ramifications. If we do this she might turn her back on us in the future.”
However, he added, Cheney has been asked to introduce bills of local interest “and they’ve never been voted on. I don’t think it’s going to hurt us.”
“She’s in the wrong business if we hurt her feelings,” said Chair Robinson.
Covill again expressed frustration with the party’s lack of power beyond censuring Cheney – “Seventy-five percent of our state voted for Trump.”
Precinct committeewoman Mary Lankford stood and said petitions and county censures already “express displeasure with all of this. The only way we can make a difference is when we go to the ballot box in two years.”
Lankford, who as county clerk swore in many newly elected officials, said Cheney’s oath is to the U.S. Constitution. “I don’t see her oath is to us, sitting here tonight.”
She urged people to “move away from the election, this particular situation” and focus on the “four tough years ahead of us instead of whether we should slap her hand.”
Committeewoman Kay Malkowski said they “just spent 30 minutes debating if we should let Liz Cheney know what we think.”
They should call for the vote, make calls, write letters and “move forward with a game plan.”
Slap her hand
Leon Covell disagreed: “I absolutely do think we need to slap Liz Cheney’s hand and I think it’s important we do slap Liz Cheney’s hand. I will call for a vote censuring Liz Cheney.”
Robinson, who does not vote except to break a tie, said it was time to vote and “51 percent wins it.”
The seven standing or speaking to censure Cheney were Vickrey, Fran Robinson, Covill, Bob Rule, Covell, Bousman and Lavonne Stephens.
The five against censuring Cheney were Schamber, Sommers, Malkowski, Lankford and Urbigkit.
“The precinct committee has voted to censure Cheney,” Robinson announced.