Republicans who embraced Trump’s big lie run to become election officials

Countrywide campaigns for secretaries of state underscore new Republican focus to take control of election administration In Georgia, Congressman Jody Hice is running to unseat Brad Raffensperger, the Republican who refused to ‘find’ votes for Donald Trump. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock Republicans who have embraced baseless claims about the 2020 election being stolen are now running to serve as the chief elections officials in several states, a move that could give them significant power over election processes. Sign up for the Guardian’s Fight to Vote newsletter The campaigns, first detailed by Politico last week, underscore a new focus to take control of election administration. Secretaries of state, who are elected to office in partisan contests that have long been overlooked, wield enormous power over election rules in their state, are responsible for overseeing election equipment, and are a key player in certifying – making official – election results. Winning secretary of state offices across the country would give conspiracy theorists enormous power to wreak havoc in the 2024 presidential election, including potentially blocking candidates who win the most votes from taking office. “This is an indication of wanting, basically, to have a man inside who can undermine,” said Sylvia Albert, the director of voting and elections at Common Cause, a government watchdog group. “Clearly these are not people who believe in the rule of law. And people who run our government need to follow the rule of law. So it is concerning that they are running.” In Arizona, Mark Finchem, a Republican in the state house, is seeking the GOP’s nomination to be secretary of state, the top election official in Arizona. Finchem, who was at the US Capitol on 6 January, has repeatedly voiced support for the “Stop the Steal” movement, falsely claimed the election was stolen from Donald Trump, and backed efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. He is also a staunch supporter of an ongoing Republican effort to review 2.1m ballots cast in Arizona’s largest county, an exercise experts say is designed to try to undermine the election results. Jody Hice, a Republican Georgia congressman who voted to try to block certification of the electoral college, is also running to serve as the top election official in his state and Trump has already endorsed him. He is trying to unseat Brad Raffensperger, an incumbent Republican, who drew Trump’s ire after refusing to “find” votes for him there. In Nevada, Jim Marchant, a former Republican congressional candidate who alleged fraud and tried to overturn his loss last year is running to serve as secretary of state there. Kristina Karamo, a Republican who made baseless claims about fraud in Michigan, is also running to be the top elected official there. Finchem, Hice, Marchant and Karamo all did not respond to interview requests. Jena Griswold, Colorado’s top election official and the chair of the Democratic association of secretaries of state was blunt in her assessment of the four candidates. She said it was concerning many of them were running in swing states where there were attempts to overturn the 2020 election. “People who spread lies about our elections to try to help their own political parties are not fit to protect elections,” she said in an interview. “They should not be elected to these offices.” Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said she was “deeply worried” about the prospect of people who spread lies about elections becoming top state election officials. “We’re seeing now an escalation of the tactics and a proliferation of the tactics that we’ve experienced over the past year to undermine democracy,” she said. “And they’ve now taken on this focus on who has the authority over our elections in 2022 and 2024 really. And using the time now to change the rules of the game and the people who oversee it.” The role of a secretary of state can vary in each state, but in many places they wield enormous unilateral authority to create voting regulations and interpret election rules. That power was on display in 2020, when secretaries across the country made key decisions on access to drop boxes and sending out mail-in ballot applications, among other measures. After election day, Republican and Democratic secretaries of state in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada stood as bulwarks against Trump’s efforts to overturn the results, both by dispelling accusations of fraud and refusing to stop the certification of elections. Benson, Michigan’s top election official, noted that secretaries of state were often one of the most trusted sources of information around election processes. In March, Benson’s office released a detailed report dispelling claims of abnormalities in Antrim county, which had become a major focus of those who believed the election was stolen. She also beat back claims there was wrongdoing in Detroit, where Trump used baseless accusations of fraud to try to stop certification of the result, and released a statement in March noting more than 250 audits had confirmed the results of the election. The Nevada secretary of state, Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, investigated GOP claims of fraud and publicly said in April there was no evidence for the claim – a move that earned her a censure from her own party. Raffensperger was one of the most prominent voices to defy Trump last year and say there was no fraud in his state and championed audits and hand recounts that backed him up. “You have inherent in the position of bully pulpit to amplify truth, or in the cases of bad actors, perhaps amplify misinformation,” she said. “That’s another pernicious aspect of individuals who would seek to occupy this office as the state’s chief election officer who are not committed to telling the truth … they are instead committed to spreading the big lie or other misinformation that create chaos.”

Arizona ‘refurbishes’ its gas chamber to prepare for executions, documents reveal

The corrections department has spent more than $2,000 on ingredients to make cyanide gas, the same used in Auschwitz The state prison in Florence, Arizona, houses the gas chamber. Built in 1949 and mothballed for 22 years, it’s been dusted off and ‘refurbished’. Photograph: AP The state of Arizona is preparing to kill death row inmates using hydrogen cyanide, the same lethal gas that was deployed at Auschwitz. Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal that Arizona’s department of corrections has spent more than $2,000 in procuring the ingredients to make cyanide gas. The department bought a solid brick of potassium cyanide in December for $1,530. It also purchased sodium hydroxide pellets and sulfuric acid which are intended to be used to generate the deadly gas. The gas chamber itself, built in 1949 and disused for 22 years, has been dusted off and, according to the department, “refurbished”. Over the past few months the Republican-controlled state has moved aggressively to restart its deeply flawed execution system. The death penalty has been in abeyance in Arizona for seven years following the gruesomely botched lethal injection of Joseph Wood in 2014. Last month, the Guardian revealed that Arizona spent a jaw-dropping $1.5m on a batch of pentobarbital in October, a sedative which it now hopes to use as its main lethal injection method. The Guardian’s documents, obtained through public records requests, show that officials have also gone to considerable lengths to revive the state’s mothballed gas chamber, housed at ASPC-Florence. A series of tests were conducted last August to appraise its “operability”. Seals on windows and the door were checked to ensure airtightness, and drains cleared of blockage. Water was used in the tests in place of the deadly chemicals, with a smoke grenade ignited to simulate the gas. Some of the techniques used to test the safety of the chamber were astonishingly primitive, the documents reveal. Prison officials checked for gas seepages with a candle. Arizona spent $1.5m on a shipment of pentobarbital in October, a sedative which can be used for a lethal injection. Photograph: AP The flame of the candle was held up to the sealed windows and door and if its flame remained steady and did not flicker the chamber was deemed to be airtight. In December staff declared the vessel “operationally ready”. The preparation of cyanide gas executions presents Arizona death row inmates with a Hobson’s choice between two questionable ways to die. Should they opt for the gas chamber, they should be mindful of the last time anybody was gassed by the state. Walter LaGrand, a German national, was sentenced to death for a 1982 bungled armed bank robbery in which a man was killed. The Tucson Citizen published an eyewitness account of his 1999 execution in which he displayed “agonizing choking and gagging” and took 18 minutes to die. “The witness room fell silent as a mist of gas rose, much like steam in a shower, and Walter LaGrand became enveloped in a cloud of cyanide vapor,” the Citizen reported. “He began coughing violently – three or four loud hacks – and made a gagging sound before falling forward.” The newspaper recorded that over many minutes the inmate’s head and arms twitched, and his hands were “red and clenched”. Should an inmate choose death by lethal injection – the method widely deployed among death penalty states as the supposedly scientific and humane alternative to gas, electric chair or firing squad – they will also find the last time it was used in Arizona it was anything but humane. Joseph Wood took almost two hours to die when Arizona experimented on him with 15 doses of a then little-used concoction of lethal injection drugs. An eye witness told the Guardian that he counted Wood gasp and gulp 660 times. In its current rush to restart executions, Arizona has selected two inmates as likely candidates to go first out of a current death row population of 115 people. They are Frank Atwood, 65, sentenced to death for killing an eight-year-old girl, Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, in 1984; and Clarence Dixon, 65, convicted of the 1978 murder of a college student, Deana Bowdoin. A member of Atwood’s legal team, Joseph Perkovich of Phillips Black, told the Guardian that it was improper for the state to be hurrying towards setting an execution date when the pandemic had impeded investigation into his client’s possible innocence for more than a year. As for Atwood’s choice between lethal injection or gas, Perkovich said: “Neither option is tenable.” The execution chamber at the Arizona state prison in Florence. Photograph: Reuters The attorney pointed out that there is a discrepancy between the potassium cyanide that has been obtained by the corrections department and the state’s execution protocol which stipulates that sodium cyanide must be used. “This is not a small detail – the specific compound is vitally important,” he said. Perkovich added that “Frank Atwood is prepared to die. He is a man of Greek Orthodox faith and is preparing for this moment. But he does not want to be tortured and subjected to a botched execution.” Inmates who choose the gas chamber are strapped into a chair in the centre of the vessel. Coloured levers are then used to drop the sodium cyanide into a pot of sulfuric acid under the chair, releasing the deadly hydrogen cyanide into the air. Once the prisoner is dead, the gas is neutralized with ammonia until the chamber is safe to enter. “As a precautionary method,” the death chamber protocol says, “it is recommended that the team removing the body wear gas masks and rubber gloves and that the hair of the deceased inmate be ruffled in order to allow any residually trapped gas to escape.” The documents record how prison staff engaged in role play during last year’s tests. Guards acted out as inmates who resisted going to their death, screaming: “This is murder”, “I’m innocent”, “You’re putting me down like an animal”, and “This is against everything America stands for”. Despite Arizona’s best efforts to present its gas chamber as a reputable institution, the horrors of the past hang heavily over it. The Nazis used hydrogen cyanide under the trade name Zyklon B to kill more than 1 million people in gas chambers in Auschwitz and other extermination camps. Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said: “You have to wonder what Arizona was thinking in believing that in 2021 it is acceptable to execute people in a gas chamber with cyanide gas. Did they have anybody study the history of the Holocaust?”

The Gaetz-Greene Traveling Freak Show is the Future of the GOP

REUTERSThe last time an “America First” MAGA rally was held in Georgia, Republicans lost two U.S. Senate seats, and America lost what might end up being around $6 trillion. The Matt Gaetz-Marjorie Taylor-Greene show on Thursday night probably won’t cost us as much. Just some time with our family—and our dignity.The event opened with Rep. Jody Hice, who is running a primary against Republican Brad Rafensperger for Georgia Secretary of State. The crowd changed “Lock Him Up,” which was directed at Raffensperger, whose decision to follow the rule of law (though he’s wobbling now while running for reelection) obviously put him on the wrong side of the mob. With a warm up act like that, there’s no need for an announcer to say, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” The sentiment is implicit.Gaetz hit the stage first, throwing out a bunch of populist, demagogic rhetoric (“forever wars,” “socialism,” “rebuild America,” “world’s policeman,” “deep state”) and pandering (“gun control just means we have a steady aim!”). He took shots at the Bushes and the McCains and the Romneys and James Comey and Anthony Faucci. He observed that “Paul Ryan was giving a speech” in California, and added that after Ryan ran for vice president, the party “literally needed an autopsy.” The upshot? “This is Donald Trump’s party and I’m a Donald Trump Republican,” Gaetz declared. One thing he didn’t talk about was his wingman Joel Greenberg’s guilty pleas for crime including paying a 17-year-old to have sex with both of them (which Gaetz has previously denied).The Sickening History of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s HometownNot to be upstaged, Greene entered the room in a humvee, before making her way on stage, grinning from ear to ear. But her smile belied the populist anger apparently bubbling up inside her. She called out the Democrats who tear down monuments. “You better bet we’re gonna protect Stone Mountain’s monument,” she said of America’s largest monument to the Confederacy. She feigned the Mexican accent of a supposed cartel leader talking about how much he loved Joe Biden, who she said wants a “woke” military. She also called the Squad “the Jihad Squad” and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, “O’Crazyo-Cortez.” Really classy stuff. You see, she’s not a politician. She’s just like you. If you’re a jerk like that, at least.So why is this happening? First, of course, for attention. I’m writing about this, and so are lots of others and, for this crew and especially Greene who’s already been booted from her House committees so has nothing left, but PR like this is its own reward. Indeed, Gaetz referred to Thursday’s rally as “the greatest political show on earth.”Even during the good old days, conservative politics was probably half Bill Buckley and half P.T. Barnum. We were business up front and party in the back (okay, maybe we didn’t party quite as hardy as Gaetz—who my Beast colleagues report snorted coke with a model with a no-show government job at a GOP Trump Defender gala in Orlando—and Greene, but you get the point). Today, the entertainment wing has almost completely supplanted the governing wing.As Gaetz told Vanity Fair a while back, “If you aren’t making news, you aren’t governing.” And Gaetz is ok right now with any news that isn’t about allegations involving sex trafficking a minor. He’s flooding the zone (also with headlines about how he’s flirting with a 2024 presidential bid if Trump doesn’t run) which is a great PR strategy, assuming, you know, he doesn’t get indicted.There are other reasons, including the theory that, in today’s world, hunkering down and laying low is seen as either a tacit admission of guilt—or proof you take the whole thing seriously. I’m not sure which one would be more detrimental to Gaetz’s brand, but he’s avoiding both like the plague.You’ve heard of “the big lie,” well this is “the big tour.” Gaetz’s frantic activity is either a sign of innocence or shamelessness. My money’s on the latter, but who knows? And that’s the point. He may also reason that the fact that he’s on stage with a prominent female may also, psychologically, lend some cover.Speaking of Greene, she has been embroiled in something of her own scandal, having compared the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to Jews being forced to wear golden stars in Nazi, Germany. Once upon a time, these sort of Holocaust comparisons would have spelled the end of a political career, but in today’s Republican Party, it’s a feature, not a bug. Greene, having embraced other crazy theories, was able to haul in over $3 million during the first quarter of the year, after all. Sure, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy condemned it in a tweet, but that is probably as severe as the punishment gets. Greene doesn’t need to hit the hustings to change the subject from her scandal, she’s doing it for the fun of it. To revel in it.I’m a Rational Jewish Person. Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Nuts.That’s not to say there isn’t some danger to this. Gaetz and Greene might not intend this and Trump may not realize it but this is the first salvo of what could be a threat to his death grip on the party. That’s because this tour is evidence that anyone—even two lowly House members—can co-opt Trump’s message, steal his delivery mechanism, and take their show on the road. (Sure, they have played some home games in Florida and Georgia, but they also took their horse and pony show to Arizona—and don’t forget Gaetz’s trip to troll Liz Cheney in Wyoming).Now, this crowd was minuscule—even compared to the sparsely attended rally Trump held a year ago in Oklahoma. Still, the event encroaches on an innovation that Trump had essentially monopolized for the last five or so years. Trump didn’t invent the idea of holding rallies, of course, but he took them to a new level. They weren’t just for campaigns, they were for governing. Moreover, you didn’t need an invitation to speak; you could just throw your own event.Not everyone can pack a stadium, of course, but that’s the beauty of teaming up. Gaetz and Greene might not be the Rolling Stones packing stadiums, but maybe they are Styx and Collective Soul doing an arena joint tour.What I’m saying is that, over time, Trump is in danger of having what happened to Sarah Palin happen to him. At one point, Palin was the only game in town. She was the hot commodity. But once she left her position as governor of Alaska, she became irrelevant. It took a couple of years, but a generation of younger, more relevant, imitators supplanted her. Now, Trump is a better marketer than Palin and he was, after all, the president. Still, you can see why he has to at least feign a 2024 run—and why he has already announced he will be doing more of his own rallies.Gaetz and Greene clearly aren’t there yet, as the livestream I was watching actually cut off just before the duo came back out to perform a sort of curtain call. The livestream instead switched to something called (I’m not making this up), “The Right View With Lara Trump.”In a more healthy Republican Party, Gaetz would be drummed out of power because of his indiscretions, and Greene would never get within a mile of Capitol Hill. Trump helped create the circumstances where they would flourish. Even if he is ultimately replaced, he has succeeded in creating a generation of Republicans who share his penchant for self-promotion, his preference for populist politics, and, well, his family values.The Matt Gaetz-Marjorie Taylor Greene event was one-third tent revival, one-third rock concert, and one-third circus—and it was all a freak show. This is all to say it was a rollicking success in today’s Republican Party. Expect other MAGA-types to start replicating this idea. The devil(‘s) went down to Georgia.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Pelosi: House Ethics Committee should 'probably' investigate altercation between Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and AOC

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested the House Ethics Committee may need to investigate Wednesday's altercation between fervent reader Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) At her weekly press conference on Thursday, Pelosi addressed Greene's shouted and tweeted comments calling Ocasio-Cortez a "terrorist sympathizer." Pelosi labeled the incident a "verbal assault," adding that it was "so beyond the pale of anything that is in keeping with bringing honor to the House." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Ethics Committee should “probably” look into Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) “verbal assault” and “abuse” of Rep. @AOC (D-NY) yesterday at the Capitol. — The Recount (@therecount) May 13, 2021 According to eyewitness accounts from two Washington Post reporters, Greene yelled after Ocasio-Cortez as she exited the House chamber. When AOC didn't respond, Greene "continued shouting while asking [Ocasio-Cortez] why she supports antifa and Black Lives Matter, claiming they are 'terrorist' groups," writes The Hill. Ocasio-Cortez never stopped walking, "only turning around once and throwing her hands in the air in an exasperated motion," reports the Post. Greene later tweeted she had in fact "talked" with the New York representative, who she claims is "too scared to debate" the Green New Deal. Just talked to @AOC again. You chickened out bc you are too scared to debate me about your Socialist Green New Deal. You are also a hate-America terrorist sympathizer.#JihadSquad Members of Congress do NOT support terrorism & shouldn’t be afraid to debate their legislation. — Marjorie Taylor Greene (@mtgreenee) May 12, 2021 Ocasio-Cortez' office is now "calling on top lawmakers to ensure that Congress remains 'a safe, civil place' for members and staff," writes The Hill. Greene later responded by calling her a "fraud and a hypocrite." The Ethics Committee has not yet commented on whether it will investigate. More stories from theweek.comGeorge P. Bush applauds Liz Cheney's ouster, claims she doesn't 'stand up for conservative Republican ideology'The Republican theory of unemployment is classic MarxThe problem with Ohio's $1 million vaccine lottery

The Real Reason Liz Cheney Had to Go

ShutterstockMinutes before her removal from House leadership on Wednesday, Liz Cheney told her colleagues that the nation needed a Republican Party “based on truth,” warning that embracing Donald Trump would “drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy.”Hours later, after House Republicans swiftly stripped Cheney of her leadership position, they managed to prove her point at a hearing on Jan. 6.Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) said to call the insurrection an insurrection was a “bald-faced lie” because the people streaming into the Capitol looked like “a normal tourist visit.” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who has ties to the organizers behind Jan. 6, said law enforcement was “harassing peaceful patriots.” And Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) theorized that it was impossible to know if it was actually Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol because no one had polled the rioters.“It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day,” added Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), “not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others.”The embrace of a fabricated version of Jan. 6 was the natural progression following what they did that morning—booting Cheney from her position as the GOP conference chairwoman. And it was perhaps Cheney’s proclivity for telling the truth about Trump, the insurrection, and Republican lies about voter fraud that ultimately sealed her fate.Just don’t tell that to Republican members. If you ask them, you’ll get an assortment of tortured explanations.“It's just the style of leadership,” Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) told The Daily Beast on Tuesday.“I felt she pushed too hard to spend more money in the first Trump budget,” Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) said, referring to something that happened four years ago.“Just became too much of a distraction,” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) told reporters on Wednesday.In interviews with more than 20 House Republicans this week, it’s clear that most GOP members had become uncomfortable with Cheney continuing to represent them in leadership. But their rationales were often far from coherent, and the real reason why so many wanted to take away Cheney’s megaphone—whether Republicans would like to admit it or even realize it—is that she undermined a key endeavor of the GOP: lying.Every time Cheney defiantly said the 2020 election had not been stolen from Trump, she undercut Republican attempts to change laws making it harder to vote. Every time she laid the blame for Jan. 6 at Trump’s feet, Republicans became a little more uneasy. And every time she referenced “The Big Lie,” she inconveniently suggested that those refusing to acknowledge Joe Biden’s legitimate victory were, in fact, not telling the truth.“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system,” Cheney tweeted on May 3, in what may have been the final straw.On Wednesday afternoon, as House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) exited a meeting with Biden and other congressional leaders at the White House, he somehow claimed that he didn’t think anybody was “questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election.”“That is all over with,” McCarthy said.But it’s obviously not. And as The Daily Beast sought explanations from GOP members as to why Cheney had to go, Cheney’s resolute declarations about the election seemed to be at top of mind for many.Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) told The Daily Beast that Cheney had thrown GOP lawmakers “under the bus” precisely because she called out those actively questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election.“If we say we have questions about the 2020 election, then you're somehow enemy to democracy,” Loudermilk said.Republicans Lean Into New Role as Trump’s Willing Hostages Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) expressed a number of issues he had with Cheney even before the election, but he also seemed offended that Cheney would side with Democrats on issues like impeachment, the 2020 election winner, and Jan. 6.“The problem is you can’t have a Republican conference chair who continually recites Democrat talking points,” Jordan said. “You can't have a Republican conference chair who takes positions that 90% of the party oppose.”Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the overwhelming favorite to take Cheney’s position now that she’s been ousted, told The Daily Beast Wednesday morning that the GOP conference chair—charged with helping Republicans message—needed to “represent the whole team.”“And I believe that she lost the faith of the members of the conference,” Stefanik said.When The Daily Beast asked Stefanik if anything Cheney had said was actually inaccurate or should be controversial, Stefanik revealed her sense of subjective truth.“What she’s saying is not representative of the viewpoints of 70-plus million Americans who voted for President Trump, or for the majority of our conference members,” Stefanik said. “It’s important that we focus on election security and election integrity moving forward, and that’s why you see state legislatures taking action.”It’s that key Republican endeavor—to clamp down on voting—that may truly be the most Machiavellian reason for Cheney’s removal. As Republicans turn to state legislatures for new rules that would make it harder for people to vote, the last thing they need is a GOP leader calling out their own attempts to restrict voting as an unnecessary and naked power grab.Republican lawmakers and operatives appear convinced that voter integrity issues will be a winner for the GOP headed into the critical 2022 elections. John McLaughlin, who served as a top pollster for Trump during the 2016 and 2020 races, told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that based on his data, he believes voting issues could “help defeat” Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), all up for reelection next November.McLaughlin called it a “fundamental issue” that motivates “Republicans and conservatives but wins big among all voters."For months, the twice-impeached former president has also told allies on Capitol Hill and his advisers that “election integrity issues”—as they call them—have to be a core tenet and litmus test in upcoming GOP primaries, according to three people familiar with the matter. Earlier this year, Trump even went as far as to say that a candidate’s refusal to acknowledge that Biden legitimately won could factor into his decisions when it came time to pick more endorsements.But it’s not just Trump and his allies who see these election issues as a major issue in the GOP. Cheney’s dwindling camp of defenders also saw how her speaking the truth about the 2020 election was a major reason for her removal.“Liz didn’t agree with President Trump’s narrative and she was cancelled,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) told reporters on Wednesday. The arch-conservative lawmaker warned that voters would remember in 2022 that Republicans “were unwilling to stand up to a narrative that the election was stolen.”Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), one of Cheney’s staunchest defenders, also told reporters Wednesday morning that what was happening in the GOP conference was “terribly backwards.”“On Day One, you know, when Kevin was spending five or eight minutes, you know, supporting Marjorie Taylor Greene, and then, you know, 12 seconds defending Liz at the end of it, it’s backwards,” Kinzinger said. “It just goes to show that this is all about maintaining power.”Kinzinger added that nothing Cheney has said to date was “controversial, you know, in the truth world,” and he said that Republicans needed to gain power by being honest and engaging voters “like adults and not like the children that we’ve been lately.”“The reality is, you can’t blame people that think the election was stolen, because that’s all they hear from their leaders,” Kinzinger said. “It’s leaders’ job to tell the truth even if that’s uncomfortable, and that’s not what we’re doing.”A House GOP aide aligned with Cheney was even more emphatic Wednesday, telling The Daily Beast that this effort to strip Cheney of her position was about “Donald Trump and his lies. Full stop.”“There’s not a single member that has claimed the things that Rep. Cheney has said are wrong, but she still was removed,” this aide said. “That says more about the state of the conference and its fealty to Trump’s ludicrous BS than it does about her.”One senior GOP aide told The Daily Beast that, while demoting Cheney may help in Republican attempts to restrict voter access, it probably wasn’t the conscious thought of most members to remove her for that reason. Instead, this aide said, it was Republican uneasiness with talking about the insurrection.“Many members don’t even disagree with her views on January 6th—they just don’t want to talk about it publicly,” this senior GOP aide said. “It doesn’t unify the conference or serve the party’s broder message to constantly insert the insurrection into the conversation. It’s the opposite of message discipline.”Cheney’s continued insistence to point out Trump and the GOP’s lies did seem to finally cross a threshold for GOP leaders last week, when McCarthy and GOP Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) finally said they’d had enough with her.Three months ago, when Cheney faced the first campaign to remove her as conference chair, McCarthy was a key reason she kept the position. By a two-to-one margin, the conference voted to keep her in leadership following her vote to impeach Trump and her blistering criticism of his role in fomenting the Jan. 6 insurrection.At the time, House Republicans were largely willing to accommodate Cheney’s views. But since that vote, the consensus among House GOP members changed, and now most agreed Cheney had become a problem, even if they refused to identify why that was the case.Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)—after first refusing to answer a question about when Cheney had become a problem for Republicans because the reporter was wearing a mask—then asked for the reporter to tell her why Cheney had become a problem.“I’m asking you, you’ve reported on it,” Greene said.Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) answered that question by saying Cheney became a problem “when she voiced her own personal opinions as conference chair.”And Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) refused to meaningfully answer, suggesting that it was a gotcha question.“When did you stop beating your wife?” Massie replied.—with reporting from Asawin Suebsaeng.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.