Rep. Liz Cheney, speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday, said it’s time for Republicans to make a choice: Donald Trump or the Constitution.
The vice chair of the Jan. 6 committee leaned into her message just a day after White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s stunning testimony unveiled new details about the highest echelons of the White House in the final days and hours before the violent Capitol attack.
In taking the stage at the Reagan Library in California, Cheney didn’t shy away from her newfound role as the face of the anti-Trump GOP and a relic of the Republican Party before the dominance of Trump, who she said is “attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic.” The Wyoming Republican, who has yet to rule out a run for president in 2024, spoke in a manner that paves the path for a presidential run.
She ran through the Jan. 6 committee’s damning weeks of testimony that has illustrated Trump’s multi-pronged attempt to hold on to power and his bubbling rage. Cheney mentioned Trump’s summoning of rioters to Washington, D.C., and Hutchinson’s claim that Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump felt that “Mike deserves it” as rioters called for the death of then-Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6. Cheney took aim at Republicans and elected officials who have “made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.”
“It’s undeniable. It’s also painful for Republicans to accept. And I think we all have to recognize and understand what it means to say those words, and what it means that those things happened,” Cheney said to the crowd at a site long associated with traditional Republican values as reflected in Reagan’s presidency.
“But the reality that we face today as Republicans — as we think about the choice in front of us — we have to choose. Because Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution.”
Cheney, who is at risk of losing her primary for her Wyoming House seat, said she’s a conservative Republican, a politician who believes in limited government, low taxes, a strong national defense and that family is the center of Americans’ lives. She hit the Biden administration for its economic policies and record-high inflation plaguing American households.
But she said as a leader in her party, she said she cannot ignore “the threat posed by Donald Trump,” nor can other Republicans.
She then quoted Reagan: “No party and no people and no nation can defend and perpetuate a constitutional republic if they accept a leader who’s gone to war with the rule of law, with the democratic process, or with the peaceful transition of power, with the Constitution itself.”
Cheney talked about seeing the world through the eyes of her children, and through the eyes of young Americans. She talked about the need to put people above politics, as well as a need for bipartisanship and decency in a time when Americans are so divided.
“One of my Democratic colleagues said to me recently that he looked forward to the day when he and I could disagree again,” Cheney said. “And believe me, I share that sentiment.”
She said her youngest son wrote her a note on Mother’s Day, telling her that every time she left the house, he knew she was going to “work for America.” She said it brought her to tears. And in the months since Jan. 6, and her role on the committee, Cheney said she’s been moved by young Americans approaching her — especially the young women.
“And I will tell you that it is especially the young women, young women who seem instinctively to understand the peril of this moment for our democracy,” Cheney said.
While Hutchinson’s superiors, men much older than her, have “hidden behind executive privilege, anonymity and intimidation,” Cheney said, Hutchinson exhibited bravery and patriotism that will show young girls “what it really means to love this country.” The crowd cheered.
“Let me also say this to all the little girls and young women who are watching tonight,” Cheney said. “These days, for the most part, men are running the world, and it is really not going well.”