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Liz Cheney slams House GOP leaders, says they ‘enabled white nationalism’

Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, walked in the US Capitol last week.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Republican Representative Liz Cheney on Monday accused her party’s leaders of enabling “white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism” days after a gunman killed 10 people and injured three others in what authorities said was a racist attack that targeted a community in Buffalo, N.Y., for its predominantly Black population.

Cheney’s comments come as members of the Republican party have faced criticism for echoing the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory that the suspect allegedly cited in an online document. Authorities said they are still working to confirm the authenticity of the racist 180-page document that was allegedly written by 18-year-old Payton Gendron.

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Cheney, a Wyoming representative and frequent critic of members of her own party, said on Twitter Monday that “The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism. 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.”

Officials said that Gendron, who has been charged with first-degree murder, allegedly researched the demographics of the area where he carried out the shootings in an act of “racially motivated violent extremism.” Of the 13 people who were shot Saturday at the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, 11 were Black.

Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the No. 3 House Republican, has faced criticism from the Democratic National Committee for peddling themes of the baseless conspiracy theory in campaign ads. One ad published on Facebook in September 2021 by Stefanik’s campaign committee falsely claimed “radical Democrats” are planning a “PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION,” according to The Washington Post. The ad showed President Biden wearing sunglasses with migrants in the reflection and read, “Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”

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Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who has also sharply criticized members of his own party, drew attention Stefanik’s ads on Twitter Saturday and called on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to respond.

“Did you know: [Stefanik] pushes white replacement theory? The #3 in the House GOP. [Cheney] got removed for demanding truth. [McCarthy] should be asked about this,” the tweet read. It included a link to a September 2021 Newsweek article describing the blistering response from the editorial board of The Albany Times Union to her campaign ad.

In a press release Monday, Stefanik said: “our nation is heartbroken and saddened to hear the tragic news and horrific loss of life in Buffalo, N.Y.” But the release was titled “Statement on the Disgraceful, Dishonest, and Dangerous Media Smears.”

A senior adviser to Stefanik, Alex De Grasse, said in the same statement that Stefanik “has never advocated for any racist position or made a racist statement.”

The racist conspiracy theory has also been peddled by Fox News figures like Tucker Carlson. An analysis by The New York Times found that Carlson mentioned versions of the theory in more than 400 episodes of his top-rated Fox show.


Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.