Donald Trump has lashed out at at Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the third-highest ranking Republican leader in the US House of Representatives, in a growing feud that has split the party.
The former president called the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney a "warmonger" who had "no business" in the party leadership as a result of "unknowingly and foolishly" saying that there was no fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Trump also condemned Mike Pence, his own vice president, as well as Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, for not fighting back against the election results to "expose all of the corruption that was presented at the time".
He said the country was "turning into a socialist nightmare" since his ejection from the White House.
Cheney, who was one of only 10 Republican House members to vote to impeach Trump, said this week that those who spread the "big lie" about election fraud were "poisoning our democratic system".
She implored her GOP colleagues today (Wednesday local time) to pry themselves from a Trump "cult of personality" declaring that the party and even American democracy was at stake. "History is watching," she said.
Trump had already endorsed loyalist Elise Stefanik to replace Cheney's role in the GOP, saying in an earlier statement "we want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again movement".
Backing Trump, the party's top leaders, Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy, then moved to expel Cheney from her post for criticising the former president.
McCarthy, the House opposition leader, said he had "lost confidence" in Cheney while speaking off-air after a Fox News interview on Tuesday. "I think she's got real problems. I've had it with her," he said.
Without support from the top brass, Cheney's political future in the House appears increasingly shaky. A vote on replacing her could come next week.
Cheney's fate is being seen as a bellwether for the direction of the Republican Party, which is working hard to win back control of the House in next year's midterm elections.
The 54-year-old has not only clashed with fellow party members over election fraud claims but she has also refused to absolve Trump of his role in fuelling the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
US President Biden told reporters at the White House that the GOP is in the throes of a "significant sort of mini revolution".
He added, "I think Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point."
- additional reporting: AP