(CNN)Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third ranking Republican in the House, is publicly taking on President Donald Trump — and unlike with most of his other critics, the President seems wary to hit back.
Cheney, who is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has broken with Trump on policy before, but she has become increasingly outspoken in recent months.
Cheney also pushed back when Trump was considering ending lockdowns for the sake of the economy in March.
She certainly isn't a maverick in the style of the late Sen. John McCain. And she hasn't been one to vote against Trump on hot button issues — such as his seizure of military funds for the construction of a border wall, like retiring Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd. Instead, Cheney's criticism of the President often comes without explicit mention of him. But in a Republican Party that has coalesced tightly around Trump and driven out dissenters since his election, even the slightest deviations from his stances, especially from GOP leaders, are notable.
Republican sources close to Cheney told CNN they believe her recent posture towards the White House could be an attempt to carve out her own distinctive lane, positioning herself well in case Trump loses reelection. She would be able to make the case to her GOP colleagues that she was one of the few who pushed back on the President's excesses — but without doing so in a way that antagonized him or his supporters.
Cheney seems to have struck a balance that has eluded so many others over the past three years. Despite her public comments rebuking the President, he has not lashed out at her. Instead, Trump has repeatedly praised her in public.
Some members believe this is because Cheney has unique name recognition and outsized independence based on national support. Republicans also point out that Cheney is very strategic about which issues she wants to pick a fight on — and she avoids personal attacks.
Earlier this year, she also slammed Trump's idea to bring Taliban leaders to Camp David for peace talks, saying "no member of the Taliban should set foot there. Ever."
"I do think the President should stop tweeting about Joe Scarborough," she said. "We're in the middle of a pandemic. He's the commander in chief of this nation. And it's causing great pain to the family of the young woman who died."
Her remarks were in stark contrast with House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who sidestepped questions about it at the time and said he didn't know enough about the subject.
"I believe I can have the biggest impact for the people of Wyoming by remaining in leadership in the House of Representatives and working to take our Republican majority back," she said when she announced her decision.