By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Representative Liz Cheney called on fellow Republicans to reject white supremacism, days after a teenage gunman motivated by the right-wing “great replacement” theory allegedly killed 10 people in a racist shooting in western New York state.
“The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism,” Cheney, an outspoken Republican critic of former President Donald Trump and his allies in the House of Representatives, wrote on Twitter.
“History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them,” she tweeted.
Political fallout from the weekend shooting could become a new hurdle for Republicans, as they try to minimize infighting over party fealty to Trump in the run-up to the Nov. 8 midterm elections that will determine control of Congress.
A 180-page manifesto that circulated online, believed to have been authored by the 18-year-old white man accused in the killing spree, outlined the “Great Replacement Theory,” a racist conspiracy theory that white people were being replaced by minorities in the United States and elsewhere.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer blamed the spreading of the “replacement” theory on conservative media pundits and Trump-style Republican rhetoric on immigration.
“These views should have no place in American society and certainly no place in the segments of our most-watched news channels,” said Schumer, who called for rooting out of hatred and legislation to address gun violence.
Cheney is one of two Republicans on a congressional committee that has subpoenaed House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and four other party lawmakers to testify about the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by hundreds of Trump supporters.
McCarthy dismissed Cheney’s tweet by calling her criticism typical and saying she was just trying “to play a political game when she knows something’s not true.”
The California Republican also said he had not given any thought to the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoena, describing the panel as “a one-party-appointed committee.”
Cheney was joined in her criticism by Representative Adam Kinzinger, a fellow maverick Republican who is also on the committee, in blaming the party’s leadership for not condemning the racism that fueled the attack in Buffalo, New York, where 11 of the 13 wounded were Black Americans.
“Here is my replacement theory: we need to replace @EliseStefanik, @GOPLeader, @RepMTG, @CawthornforNC and a number of others,” Kinzinger said Sunday in a tweet referring to McCarthy, House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and hard-line Trump supporters Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn.
“The replacement theory they are pushing/tolerating is getting people killed,” said Kinzinger.
Cheney and Kinzinger maintain that House leaders are pandering to Trump allies and supporters who advocate white nationalism as the party tries to take control of the House in November’s midterm elections.
In a tweet on Saturday, Kinzinger said Stefanik pushed white replacement theory in Facebook ads last September that claimed Democrats planned to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants to overthrow the U.S. electorate and perpetuate their power.
Stefanik’s office in a statement rejected that criticism.
“Any implication or attempt to blame the heinous shooting in Buffalo on the Congresswoman is a new disgusting low for the left, their Never Trump allies and the sycophant stenographers in the media,” said Alex DeGrasse, a senior adviser to Stefanik.
Stefanik, who represents a New York state congressional district, replaced Cheney as the No. 3 House Republican last year after Cheney condemned Trump for the January 2021 Capitol attack by his supporters.
Greene on Twitter said that responsibility for the shooting lay only with the gunman. The offices of McCarthy and Cawthorn did not respond to requests for comment.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis and Aurora Ellis)