The problem was that she kept criticising Trump as the months went on. Or, to put it more accurately, Trump kept telling lies about the election and Cheney occasionally pushed back on them.
Other leading Republicans who criticised Trump after the Capitol riot – including Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy – have since travelled to his Florida home to make up with him or kept quiet about their complaints.
“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” Cheney said in speech to the House this week, explaining why she had continued to speak out against Trump. “I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”
For a party looking to move on from January 6 and keen to focus on attacking the new Biden administration, she became an inconvenient truth teller and a distraction.
And so she was sacrificed. As Trump celebrated her demise, describing her in a statement as a “bitter, horrible human being, Cheney vowed: “I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”
Cheney’s defenestration shows that, for all the talk of a Republican “civil war” following the insurrection, the party overwhelmingly remains united behind Trump.
Loyalty to Trump himself – rather than a commitment to any particular policy position – is now the defining feature of the modern Republican Party.
Polls show two-thirds of Republican voters believe his lies about last year’s election and most want him to run again for president in 2024.
Cheney, meanwhile, will face a primary challenge from a pro-Trump Republican before next year’s midterm elections and could well lose her seat in Congress.