Liz Cheney doesn’t care what the pro-Trump GOP thinks of her

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) didn’t make any new friends in the GOP with her star-bashing former President Trump turn in prime time Thursday night. It doesn’t bother her at all.

Cheney, a dynastic figure who sits in the House seat once held by his father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, used his senior position on the Jan. 6 select committee to accuse Trump of abusing the powers of the House of Commons. presidency to orchestrate nothing less than a coup attempt — explosive charges that cemented his status as public enemy No. 1 in the eyes of MAGA faithful.

Very popular audience further complicated Cheney’s path to re-election in deep red Wyoming, a Trump stronghold where his main opponent has the strong backing of the 45th president, who actively opposes the mutinous incumbent.

But as Cheney’s attacks on Trump have only intensified, it’s increasingly clear that she’s motivated by more than securing her future in the lower house. Whether this thing is a sacrificial desire to save the democratic traditions of the former president’s country or a selfish effort to advance his own fame and political powers largely depends on the perspective of his fans and critics.

What’s not in question is that Cheney staked his legacy on his relentless anti-Trump activism — a reputation that will only become more deeply rooted as the select committee releases its investigative findings in a lengthy series of public hearings that will dominate discussions in Washington. during the rest of the month.

“President Trump called the crowd together, rallied the crowd, and lit the flame for this attack,” Cheney, the select committee’s vice chair, said during the panel’s prime-time hearing Thursday night.

For like-minded Trump critics, Cheney is a huge asset to the investigation, providing the committee with not only a healthy dose of bipartisan legitimacy, but also a seasoned legal mind who knows the ins and outs of the GOP conference. and his complicated relationship with the former president.

“She’s a great lawyer… [and] she was president of the House Republican Conference,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a former constitutional law professor who also serves on the inquiry committee. “So she obviously knows the ground better than anyone on the committee.”

To Trump allies on and off Capitol Hill, however, Cheney is simply a traitor to the party — a “Pelosi Republican” who has been all but disowned as GOP leaders attempt to exploit Trump’s popularity in their efforts to overturn House control in November. midterm elections.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who wants to take the presidency next year, said this week that the blame for Jan. 6 rests with “everyone in the country.”

In a sense, Cheney is an unlikely figure to take on the role of Republican iconoclast. His family ranks among the most powerful GOP dynasties of the past half-century, and his father’s unique brand of conservatism — combined with his unapologetic approach to power politics — has made him a grassroots favorite. republican.

Along those same lines, Liz Cheney’s staunch conservative stances — including strong attacks on same-sex marriage during an early campaign — made her a villain in the eyes of Democrats nationwide, but have helped propel her quickly through the executive ranks once she arrived on Capitol Hill in 2017.

In another sense, however, Cheney is the natural candidate to play Trump’s foil.

Trump had devoted much of his successful 2016 campaign to exposing the Bush-Cheney administration’s foreign entanglements, including the 2003 decision to launch the war in Iraq, which was championed by the elder Cheney. After taking over the White House, Trump continued those attacks on the former Republican Guard who had pushed for aggressive interventionist foreign policy, a group that included both Cheneys.

Although Cheney opposed Trump’s first impeachment, she was furious with his actions surrounding the attack on the Capitol, where a violent mob of Trump supporters tried to undo his electoral defeat. More than 150 police officers were injured in the rampage.

Cheney was one of 10 Republicans to back Trump’s impeachment after the riot, and she jumped head-first into her role investigating the tragedy. On Thursday, she used the television audience platform to warn Republicans who still support Trump that history will not treat them kindly.

“Tonight I say this to my fellow Republicans who defend the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain,” she said.

Proponents of the high-profile inquiry note the importance of having a Republican of Cheney’s stature joining the inquiry.

“It’s important because as she said, it’s not about political parties or your political views. It’s about getting to the truth,” said the US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell said after the hearing. “And from what the committee has presented today, it looks like there’s still a lot to do.”

But Cheney’s recalcitrance came at a political cost.

Last year, after Cheney refused to stop criticizing Trump for her role in the Capitol riot, the GOP conference voted overwhelmingly to oust her from the leadership, replacing her with a Trump stalwart. , Rep. Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.), who has embraced the former president’s lies about a stolen election.

More recently, the Republican National Committee voted to convict Cheney — along with the only other Republican on the select committee, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Illinois) — for their willingness to join Democrats in the Jan. 6 investigation. This decision, the Republican National Committee accused“has been destructive to the institution of the United States House of Representatives, the Republican Party, and our republic.”

Following Thursday’s select committee hearing, attacks on Cheney from Trump allies only escalated. During the hearing, Tucker Carlson, the popular Fox News pundit, called Cheney “the lady of the Iraq war” who is “now giving us lessons in honor and truth.”

Carlson’s guest was Joe Kent, a Washington state Trump supporter who issued a main challenge against Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who also backed Trump’s second impeachment. He, too, had sharp words for the Wyoming Republican.

“It’s absolutely absurd and insulting,” Kent said of Cheney’s attacks on Trump defenders. “She thinks we can’t go back and look at her record that she basically lied to the American people for her entire career and took advantage of it, but she also has to bring up all that, ‘Oh that must be a great thing to Trump.”

Kent said the Capitol rioters were in Washington on Jan. 6 not because of anything Trump did or said, but because “a vast majority” of Americans “didn’t feel that their voice was heard at the ballot box, and so things started to get a bit dicey.

In the face of such attacks, Cheney has found a new group of allies: Democrats, who have always opposed her conservative policy prescriptions but now cheer her on as she faces a common adversary in Trump.

“Liz Cheney and I disagree on almost probably 80% of the contentious issues that come up, plus or minus 10 points,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters this week. week. “But what she stands for is the truth.”

“That’s why she was removed as leader of the Republican Party,” he continued. “Because the Republican Party didn’t want to hear the truth.”

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