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GOP tolerates plenty of scandal-plagued members, but not Cheney

Congressional Republican leaders have standards. They're just not defensible standards.

When it comes to the current House Republican Conference, there's no shortage of members burdened by serious controversies. Among the most notable:

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is currently facing a Justice Department investigation over allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a minor, possibly violating federal sex trafficking laws in the process.
  • Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) has been dogged by difficult questions in recent months about his ties to white nationalists.
  • Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has been connected to an active Russian agent believed by U.S. officials to have targeted our elections.
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is among the most radical members of Congress elected in recent history, including her support for the deranged QAnon conspiracy theory. This year, the public also learned about Greene having expressed support for violence targeting U.S. officials, dismissing 9/11 and school massacres as hoaxes, harassing at least one survivor of a school shooting, and peddling bizarre nonsense about fire-causing space lasers.

Each of these Republican lawmakers have enjoyed the steadfast support of the House GOP conference. For example, when Democrats called for Gaetz to be removed from the Judiciary Committee, since it oversees the Justice Department that's investigating Gaetz, Republican leaders balked.

Those same Republican leaders said nothing in response to reports on Paul Gosar's white-nationalist ties, and had no qualms about leaving Gosar on a national security panel of the House Oversight Committee. GOP leaders similarly left Devin Nunes as the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee.

And, perhaps most famously, nearly all House Republicans, including GOP leaders, stood by Marjorie Taylor Greene when Democrats decided to strip her of her committee assignments.

And yet, Republicans in the chamber were willing to act against Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), ousting her from her role as chair of the House Republican Conference -- not because she's facing a criminal investigation, not because she's palled around with white nationalists, not because of associations with Russian operatives, and not because of dangerous crackpot conspiracy theories.

No, GOP lawmakers instead punished Cheney, while ignoring her far more controversial colleagues, because she told inconvenient truths about the 2020 elections and called on her party to support democracy.

In other words, the contemporary Republican Party has standards -- they're just not defensible standards. GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill are willing to take action against one of their own, but only if one of their own challenges Donald Trump's lies and insists that election results matter.