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Cheney stands defiant, urges GOP to reject Trump's election lies

Those expecting Liz Cheney to grovel, or compromise on her principles in order to maintain her access to power, were likely disappointed by her defiance.


There was a degree of irony to the circumstances. Last night, several far-right House Republicans delivered remarks from their chamber's floor, decrying "cancel culture" and the degree to which they believe it affects conservatives.

Their complaints were briefly interrupted by Republican House Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who's actually being "canceled" for telling truths her party finds inconvenient, and who saw her Republican colleagues quickly leave the room as she delivered remarks of her own. The New York Times reported overnight:

In the hours before facing a vote that will almost certainly purge her from House Republican leadership, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming remained unrepentant on Tuesday, framing her expulsion as a turning point for her party and declaring in an extraordinary speech that she would not sit quietly by as Republicans abandoned the rule of law.

Those expecting Cheney to grovel, or compromise on her principles in order to maintain her access to power, were likely disappointed by her defiance. The Wyoming congresswoman refused to back down in an op-ed published late last week, and she seemed even less interested in showing remorse while speaking from Capitol Hill last night.

Indeed, the fact that Cheney wore a replica pin of George Washington's battle flag on her lapel was a symbolic gesture reflecting her approach to the debate about her future in Republican politics.

"Today we face a threat America has never seen before," the GOP leader said, reading from a prepared text. "A former president, who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election, has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence.

"Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president. They have heard only his words, but not the truth, as he continues to undermine our democratic process, sowing seeds of doubt about whether democracy really works at all.

"I am a conservative Republican and the most conservative of conservative principles is reverence for the rule of law. The Electoral College has voted. More than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple judges he appointed, have rejected the former president's claims. The Department of Justice in his administration investigated the former president's claims of widespread fraud and found no evidence to support them. The election is over. That is the rule of law. That is our constitutional process. Those who refuse to accept the rulings of our courts are at war with the Constitution.

"Our duty is clear. Every one of us who has sworn the oath must act to prevent the unraveling of our democracy. This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent, and ignoring the lie, emboldens the liar.

"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."

Cheney concluded, "Ultimately, this is at the heart of what our oath requires – that we love our country more. That we love her so much we will stand above politics to defend her. That we will do everything in our power to protect our constitution and our freedom -- paid for by the blood of so many. We must love her so much we will never yield in her defense."

It's tempting to applaud Cheney's courage, but the truth is she has merely taken a stand in support of democracy, reality, and the integrity of the American system of government. She has, in other words, cleared a low bar that elected officials from both parties have routinely cleared for generations.

It is, however, a bar many in the contemporary Republican Party aren't even trying to reach.

And with this in mind, the House GOP conference is scheduled to meet behind closed doors later this morning, at which time there will be a vote to remove Cheney from her leadership position. Republican lawmakers will vote by way of secret ballot, just as they did in February, when her intra-party detractors first tried to kick her out of her post.

Three months ago, Cheney survived that challenge with relative ease, following a 145-to-61 vote. This morning, it's widely expected that the tally will be far different.

Watch this space.