Former GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock Warns Female Republicans About Being Party's 'Handmaiden'

Former Congresswoman Barbara Comstock warned her fellow female Republicans about being a "handmaiden" to the House GOP conference as the party is set to oust Representative Liz Cheney as conference chair.

On Wednesday, Comstock defended Cheney amid reports that House Republicans plan to replace the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress as she continues to push back against former president Donald Trump and his false claims about election fraud.

"All Liz Cheney did is say what Attorney General Bill Barr said, that there wasn't election fraud. She would not embrace the big lie," Comstock told CNN's New Day.

"I think this is a mistake. It's a bad message," she added. "I say 'whoa' to any woman who wants to be a handmaiden to this and to get a leadership spot on the heels of really something that is unseemly. To embrace the big lie."

There is growing support among GOP House leadership to replace Cheney with New York Representative Elise Stefanik.

CNN reported that Stefanik began working the phones as of Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise publicly endorsed Stefanik for the role.

Stefanik was an ardent defender of Trump during his first impeachment—a contrast to Cheney's position only a few months ago. The Wyoming Republican was among 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump for a second time following the January 6 Capitol riot.

On the other hand, Stefanik stood by the former president again this year during the impeachment vote. She also signed onto a Texas lawsuit seeking to invalidate millions of votes in the 2020 election. The suit was eventually thrown out by the Supreme Court.

Barbara Comstock
Then GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia delivers opening remarks during a hearing on preventing sexual harassment in Congress on Capitol Hill December 7, 2017. Comstock warned fellow Republican congresswomen about becoming a "handmaiden" for the GOP conference as the party looks to replace Representative Liz Cheney as the No. 3 Republican. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Stefanik has been known for her successful fundraising abilities. She has been credited with almost single-handedly recruiting the record number of women who now make up the GOP freshman class.

But Comstock, who represented Virginia's 10th congressional district from 2015 to 2019, argued that gender politics in Congress are more complex, suggesting that female Republicans are treated differently in the two chambers of Congress.

"How the House is approaching this is very different from how Mitch McConnell and the Senate has approached things," Comstock said on Wednesday. "You know, in the Senate, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Shelley Moore Capito can be independent and have their own views and be strong women and not be stuck down."

On Tuesday, Comstock tweeted: "Yes, the attacks on @RepLizCheney have sexism behind them, but trying to replace her with a Trump approved woman is every bit as sexist, stupid, and offensive."

The former congresswoman added that nothing is set in stone yet and threw in her support for Cheney, even if the No. 3 Republican were to be pushed out of leadership.

"It is a two-thirds vote. While they're all trying to declare this over, I think—no matter what happens—this strengthens Liz and you never can go wrong on standing on principle and speaking the truth," Comstock said.

Newsweek reached out to Stefanik for comment but did not hear back before publication.