Liz Cheney: Vice Chair Has Become a GOP Outcast for Convicting Trump

WASHINGTON — Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, had just made a series of scathing revelations illustrating how former President Trump had inflamed the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when she paused to call on members of her own party who she says ” defend the indefensible”.

“There will come a day when President Trump is gone,” said Ms. Cheney. “But your dishonor will remain.”

Her reprimand, part of the blistering opening remarks she made at the first prime-time hearing to set out the Jan. 6 commission’s findings, marked the culmination of a remarkable arc for Ms. Cheney, the daughter of a prominent conservative family. from one of the most powerful leaders in her party to one of the most outspoken critics and a reviled enemy of the de facto leader.

She has shown no remorse for blaming Mr Trump for fueling the attack, and her Republican colleagues for following his example by spreading the lie of a stolen presidential election. That attitude has left her marginalized by her party, with her peers ousting her from her leadership position and seeking to remove her from the house by fostering a MAGA-esque primary challenger for her home in Wyoming.

Now, from her position as vice chair of the committee investigating the attack, Ms. Cheney is leading the charge to hold Mr. Trump accountable for his efforts to reverse the election.

On Thursday night, Ms. Cheney, in comments littered with new detail, illustrated how, “for several months, Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to reverse the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power.”

She unfolded new testimony, illustrating how Mr Trump had persisted in pushing the fiction of a stolen election, even when his top officials told him his election fraud claims were false. And she emphasized how Mr Trump had responded gleefully when told that the rioters storming the Capitol were threatening his vice president, chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.”

“The president responded with this sentiment: ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea.’ Mike Pence “deserves it,” said Ms. Cheney, quoting testimony collected by commission investigators.

Trump, she argued, had put the republic in “a moment of maximum danger” not seen before.

“The sacred duty of defending this peaceful transfer of power has been fulfilled by every US president — except one,” said Ms. Cheney.

They were striking words from Ms. Cheney, who had been one of the most powerful Republicans in the House when she was ousted from her leadership post last year for bluntly and repeatedly condemning Trump’s false election claims and blaming him for the riots.

But Ms. Cheney didn’t flinch, and by taking a leading role on the Jan. 6 panel, she has elevated herself as arguably the foremost critic of Mr. Trump in the current Republican Party. She has said she considers the assignment the most important of her political career, and she often uses language borrowed from the criminal code — delivered in a distinctively blunt tone — to make it clear that she believes the former president gets with criminal exposure.

“Those who barged into our Capitol and spent hours fighting law enforcement were motivated by what President Trump had told them: that the election was stolen and that he was the rightful president,” said Ms. Cheney. “President Trump called the crowd, gathered the crowd and lit the flame of this attack.”

Behind the scenes, Ms. Cheney is known for being one of the more engaged and aggressive questioners on the panel. The video shared during the hearing on Thursday shows Ms. Cheney personally urging Jared Kushner, the former president’s son-in-law and adviser, about whether Mr. Trump’s attorney was threatening to resign over his false election claims. . And it was she who insisted on assembling a bipartisan team of former intelligence analysts and law enforcement specialists on the committee’s staff.

Before the hearing, Ms. Cheney spent much of her day polishing her opening remarks, typing on her laptop in her suite in the Cannon House Office Building, one floor above the sprawling chandeliered hearing room where she would speak before a national television audience. The lawmaker wrote its own speech, aides said, in consultation with a small circle of advisers in her office and attorneys on the panel.

Her husband, Philip Perry, and one of her four children were due to attend the evening hearing, but former Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, remained at their home in suburban Virginia. However, Ms. Cheney speaks with her father every day, on the phone or in person, and discussed her comments with him in the hours leading up to Thursday’s hearing.

Ms. Cheney is one of only two Republicans to serve on the committee, alongside Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, who has also openly condemned Mr. Trump. Both were selected by California Democrat Chair Nancy Pelosi after Republicans boycotted the committee in protest of its decision to ban two of its members from serving on the committee.

At nearly every turn since the riots, Mr. Trump and House GOP leaders have tried to oust her from the party, including backing her Trump-backed primary challenger, Harriet Hageman. Few Republicans are more determined to defeat the former president than the Wyoming MP, and polls show Ms. Cheney will face an uphill battle to retain her seat in a ruby ​​state that still favors the United States. former president.

“Nancy Pelosi loves her hand-picked minion,” Mrs Hageman wrote on Twitter, sharing a news article about Ms Cheney’s work on the committee. “Wyoming? Not so much.”

The congresswoman is in political danger because, unlike some Republicans who have found themselves in Trump’s crosshairs, she has neither sought to mend her relationship with him nor ignored his criticisms.

By seemingly embracing political martyrdom, Ms. Cheney had speculated that she might not stand for re-election—until last month, when she just made that request, shortly before the deadline.

Her broadsides against Mr. Trump have fueled speculation that whether she wins or loses in Wyoming this summer, she will mount a protracted campaign against the former president if he tries to win back the presidency.

In a video she posted when she filed for reelection last month, Ms. Cheney used the kind of lofty language she’s often turned to since splitting from her party last year, appealing to her state’s signature sense of Western honor. — and maybe a taste of what she can offer voters in 2024.

“In Wyoming, we know what it means to drive for the brand,” said Ms. Cheney. “We live in the greatest nation God has ever created, and our brand is the Constitution of the United States.”

Ms. Cheney has made little secret of the fact that she considers her work on the January 6 panel—and the political price she paid for it—historic.

“As you listen to some of my colleagues and others who think the way to respond to this inquiry is with politics and partisanship – those people are not acting in a way that is healthy for the country,” she said in an interview with The Dispatch this week. “And if we really want to understand why January 6 is a line that can never be crossed, then we really need to put aside the politics and partisanship and say what happened.”

On Thursday, she was joined all day by one of Mr. Cheney’s longtime friends, David Hume Kennerly, the famed photographer who forged a relationship with the future vice president when both served in President Gerald R. Ford’s White House. Mr. Cheney as Chief of Staff and Mr. Kennerly as Official Photographer.

Mr. Kennerly, who remains close to the family, has appeared camera in hand on other memorable days for Ms. Cheney, including last year when she was fired from her executive position by her Republican colleagues.

Zach Montague reporting contributed.

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