It was early last year when several far-right House Republicans launched an effort to kick Rep. Liz Cheney out of the House GOP leadership, citing her criticisms of Donald Trump and her willingness to accept election results. The Wyoming congresswoman could’ve backed off, but to her credit, she didn’t.
A year ago, after her ostensible allies successfully removed Cheney as House Republican Conference chair, she had another opportunity to play the game, prioritize her role in the GOP, and read from the party’s script. Again, she didn’t.
“We must go forward based on truth. We cannot both embrace the ‘big lie’ and embrace the Constitution,” Cheney said after the vote to remove her the party’s leadership. “I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”
In the months that followed, as the congresswoman’s re-election prospects grew more precarious, she again might’ve been tempted to effectively pretend she could tolerate Trump and his efforts to undermine our democracy. She did the opposite.
And for her trouble, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation recognized Cheney with a Profile In Courage Award, which she accepted earlier this month with remarks the former president probably didn’t appreciate. The Washington Post reported:
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) issued a plea Sunday for Americans to stand up in a bipartisan fashion to the actions of Donald Trump, who she said is the only U.S. president who did not live up to a “sacred obligation to defend the peaceful transfer of power.”
“[W]e face a threat we have never faced before — a former president attempting to unravel our constitutional republic,” she explained. "At this moment we must all summon the courage to stand against that.
“The question for every one of us is in this time of testing, will we do our duty? Will we defend our Constitution? Will we stand for truth? Will we put duty to our oath above partisan politics? Or will we look away from danger, ignore the threat, embrace the lies, and enable the liar?”
Cheney concluded, “I ask all of you to remember this sacred duty that has passed to us; to remember that in our republic some things have to matter. The defense of our republic, the defense of the constitutional foundations of our nation have to matter. In a republic, there are no bystanders, there are no spectators. As citizens, every one of us has a duty to set aside partisan battles and stand together to perpetuate and preserve our great republic.”
This is a message, of course, that most of her Republican colleagues have deemed unacceptable. “Enabling the liar” is precisely the course the contemporary GOP prefers.
As for the potential consequences of Cheney’s candid truths, Wyoming’s primary isn’t until August 16 but her principal rival, Harriet Hageman, will receive plenty of help between now and then. Indeed, earlier this month, Trump’s political operation formed a joint fundraising committee with Hageman, in the hopes of helping fill her campaign coffers.
We also learned a couple of days ago that the former president will headline a fundraiser for Hageman ahead of a rally in Casper this weekend.
Cheney, meanwhile, continues to serve as the vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. This will, among other things, give her a prominent public role once the panel’s public hearings begin in June.