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Updated at 8:40 a.m. ET
The House Republican Conference will meet in person on Wednesday and is expected to discuss the fates of Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, two Republicans with drastically different loyalties to former President Donald Trump.
One of them was the No. 3 House Republican, Cheney, who said in a statement ahead of the vote: “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
But backlash against her was swift, with many in her party calling for her removal from leadership.
Trump loyalist Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., even went to Cheney’s home state and urged her constituents to vote her out.
And while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has expressed support for Cheney, he also told Greta Van Susteren he has “concerns” over her impeachment vote.
“I do think she has a lot of questions she has to answer to the conference,” he said in an interview that aired on Jan. 24.
Meanwhile, McCarthy is also under pressure to take action against Greene, who has long embraced conspiracy theories and has a history of being racist and anti-Semitic.
Democrats have pushed for her to be censured and have introduced a resolution to remove her from her committee assignments. In a short statement Monday that didn’t directly cite Greene by name, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called “looney lies and conspiracy theories” a “cancer for the Republican Party.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, echoed that sentiment on Tuesday, telling Capitol Hill reporters that Republicans “should have nothing to do with Marjorie Taylor Greene.”
“It’s important for us to separate ourselves from the people that are in the wacky weeds, and if we don’t, then our opposition tries to brand us with their image and with their point of view,” he said.
McCarthy and Greene reportedly met on Tuesday evening, but no decision was announced.
How far McCarthy will go on disciplining Greene is unknown, and once again, Trump is at the center of the political implications at play.
Greene has closely linked herself to Trump, tweeting Saturday that she had a “great call” with him.
“I’m so grateful for his support and more importantly the people of this country are absolutely 100% loyal to him because he is 100% loyal to the people and America First,” she wrote.
Trump’s backing of Greene, whom he once called a “future Republican star,” could make it difficult for McCarthy, who recently met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to discuss taking back the House in 2022, to mete out the robust action that Democrats and some Republicans are calling for.
Georgia’s 14th District Republican Party leaders also came to Greene’s defense Tuesday. In a letter, the party chairs and members called on McCarthy to keep the congresswoman on the House Education and Labor, and Budget panels, writing that she “has broken no laws and done nothing illegal.”
Greene shared the letter on her Twitter page, tagging McCarthy and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the post.
Greene has used the controversy to raise funds: On Tuesday night, she tweeted: “I’m the Democrat mob’s public enemy number one” and “With your support, the Democrat mob can’t cancel me.”
Overnight, she said, she raised $160,000.
I can’t thank you all enough for the outpouring of support I’ve received today.
We’ve raised over $160,000 to send a message to the Democrat mob:
It’s People over politicians.
I’m so honored to represent you, America First Patriots, in Congress.
— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) February 3, 2021
A spokesperson from her office said: “The support from NW Georgia and across the entire country has been overwhelming. The People truly have Congresswoman Greene’s back because of her dedication to America First policies.”
Greene isn’t the only one fundraising off of the controversy. She is featured in a new series of ads launched by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at various House Republicans who voted against Trump’s impeachment. The ad accuses the Republican lawmakers of standing “with Q, not you,” referencing the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory supported by Greene.
House Democrats have also introduced a resolution stripping Greene of her seats on the House Education and Budget committees, an aggressive step attempting to force McCarthy to act or face prospect of putting all his members on the record in a full House vote potentially later this week.
What about the upcoming Senate impeachment trial?
If there was any momentum on the Senate GOP side to convict Trump, it was in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol attack and it’s since dwindled significantly.
McConnell hadn’t indicated how he would vote after the trial, potentially giving cover to members in his conference more inclined to vote to convict.
“My interpretation of what happened with McConnell is that he very much would like to turn the page and move on from Trump and left the door open quite intentionally to see if there was the requisite amount of support to get rid of him,” says Brendan Buck, a Republican consultant who once advised former House Speaker Paul Ryan.
But an effort by Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul forced his colleagues to go on the record over an element that many senators had said was weighing on their decision in the upcoming trial: whether it is constitutional to try someone no longer in office.
The move was the equivalent of sending up a test balloon to see how other members in his conference would vote. Only five Republicans broke with their party to say such a trial would be constitutional. The Democratic caucus would need 17 Republicans to join its members to convict Trump.
While some senators have argued their vote on Paul’s motion doesn’t necessarily equate to their vote after the trial, the tea leaves seem clear: The Senate won’t convict Trump.
There are certainly political calculations at play here as well. Trump’s base is obviously a devoutly loyal one and crossing the former president so resolutely could bring with it an unwelcome political cost. Senators need only look at the House infighting with Trump loyalists and conservatives like Cheney.
“[Lawmakers] went out in their communities and they got an earful on their phones and emails from people that was a reminder to them that voters love Trump still and there was no political upside to the crossing him,” Buck said.
He thinks Republicans will stick with Trump for the foreseeable future to win votes during their primaries, even if it costs national influence.
“Republican voters’ infatuation with Donald Trump has not gone away, and pure loyalty to him and his cause will continue to be the most motivating factor for Republican voters,” Buck said. “And when Republican voters feel that way, it’s going to have an impact on senators and how they vote and how they talk and the politics that they play.”