Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., stayed silent Wednesday on the controversy surrounding a top House Republican, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, over her criticisms of former President Donald Trump.
The Gazette received no responses to emails sent to Steil’s communications director, Sally Fox, who routinely fields questions from The Gazette.
The emails asked what Steil, of Janesville, thinks about the controversy surrounding Cheney and a related question, whether he believes Joe Biden is the legitimately elected president of the United States.
In an email Monday, Trump called his loss to Biden “the fraudulent presidential election of 2020” and “the big lie.”
Cheney responded quickly, tweeting that the real big lie is that the election was stolen, which she said “is poisoning our democratic system.”
The response was one in a series of Cheney statements critical of Trump.
By Wednesday, House Republicans were lining up to support a new candidate for Cheney’s leadership post, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., The Associated Press reported. Trump signaled his support for Stefanik, too.
Cheney is the House Republican Conference chairperson. The position makes her the House’s third-ranking Republican.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday that members had expressed concern about Cheney’s ability to support the party’s message as it seeks to regain the majority in the House in the 2022 elections.
Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted Jan. 13 to impeach then-President Trump.
Steil voted against impeachment and has supported Trump since the November election. Steil did condemn the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters.
Cheney appears to be in the minority of her party when it comes to Trump. One prominent Republican who appears to have some common ground with her is Paul Ryan, the Janesvillian who held the 1st Congressional District seat before Steil.
Ryan, the former House speaker, in January blasted Republican efforts to challenge Biden’s victory, calling those moves “anti-democratic and anti-conservative.”
Ryan and Cheney spoke about the future of their party in an off-the-record discussion in front of scholars at an American Enterprise Institute retreat Monday, CNN reported.
Ryan’s longtime political aide, Kevin Seifert, has been working for Cheney’s political team since earlier this year, CNN said.