Who Is Elise Stefanik, Republican Who Replaced Liz Cheney? Elise Stefanik, a four-term congresswoman, is replacing Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., in party leadership over Cheney's ongoing criticism of former President Donald Trump.

Et Tu, Elise? Cheney Lost Leadership Job To Lawmaker Who Nominated Her For It

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/995068272/995751076" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is on the verge of becoming the newest member of the House Republican leadership team. She's on track to take the job from Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who's expected to be forced out as conference chair for speaking out against former President Donald Trump for lying about the results of the 2020 election. NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis reports that won't be a problem with Stefanik.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Elise Stefanik entered Congress a star. She received national attention during her first run in 2014 because at 30 years old, she was then the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. She told C-SPAN how seeing young girls at her campaign events affected her.

(SOUNDBITE OF C-SPAN BROADCAST)

ELISE STEFANIK: It's something that I take very seriously as a role model in this country.

DAVIS: She was better connected than the average freshman lawmaker, with jobs in the George W. Bush administration and the 2012 Romney-Ryan presidential campaign, which led to a close friendship with former Speaker Paul Ryan, who told CBS this in 2018.

(SOUNDBITE OF CBS BROADCAST)

PAUL RYAN: This is the future of the Republican Party, the future of our country, people like Elise.

DAVIS: Stefanik has accumulated a mostly moderate voting record and has worked to recruit and raise money for hundreds of Republican female candidates over the years. It wasn't until the Trump era that Stefanik embraced the partisan fray. From her seat on the House intelligence committee, she levied a fierce defense of President Trump during his first impeachment hearings. And she didn't shy away from petty fights with the president's nemesis, Chairman Adam Schiff, along the way.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEFANIK: I want to thank you for being here today...

ADAM SCHIFF: Gentlewoman will suspend. You're not recognized.

STEFANIK: This is the fifth time you have interrupted members of Congress - newly elected members of Congress.

SCHIFF: Gentlewoman is not recognized. Gentlewoman will suspend.

DAVIS: Trump was delighted by her performance and lavished Stefanik with praise at a White House event following his Senate acquittal.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: But did I not realize, when she opens that mouth, you were killing them, Elise.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: The MAGA movement took notice. Ahead of the 2020 elections, Stefanik hauled in $13 million, nearly five times the amount she had ever raised for reelection on her own. Her embrace of Trump aligned with her upstate New York district, which had swung from a seat that voted for former President Obama twice to delivering double-digit margins for Trump in both 2016 and 2020. By the day of the January 6 capital riot, Stefanik was firmly in Trump's camp, joining the majority of House Republicans who voted to object to Electoral College results. She echoed Trump's doubts about the 2020 election on the House floor that night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEFANIK: Tens of millions of Americans are concerned that the 2020 election featured unconstitutional overreach by unelected state officials and judges ignoring state election laws.

DAVIS: January 6 became the breaking point between Stefanik and Cheney, who Stefanik once admired enough to nominate for the leadership job twice.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEFANIK: Liz, I was very proud to nominate you to serve as our conference chair. That is the highest position of women in the Republican conference. And we think you're a huge asset.

DAVIS: But Cheney blames Trump for what happened on January 6. She voted to impeach him. And she wants to erase him from the future of the Republican Party for his ongoing effort to falsely discredit the 2020 election. For that, Stefanik, like most House Republicans, now wants to take away Cheney's microphone. In interviews with right-wing media outlets last week, Stefanik made clear she will not use this leadership platform to deviate from the party line. This is what she told Steve Bannon's online radio show.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "BANNON'S WAR ROOM")

STEFANIK: I'm committed to being a voice and sending a clear message that we are one team. And that means working with the president and working with all of our excellent Republican members of Congress.

DAVIS: That president she's referring to is Trump.

Susan Davis, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOUSE ON THE KEYS' "PHASES")

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.