Liz Cheney’s Unlikely Journey from GOP ownership to Republican pariah


CASPER, Wyo. – actor Liz Cheney She was hiding in an undisclosed safe in the Dick Cheney Federal Building, and recounts how she received a phone call from her father on January 6.

Ms. Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, indicated that she was preparing to speak in the House of Representatives in support of ratification of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as president. Cheney, the former vice president and closest political advisor to his daughter, consulted with her most days, but this time he was treating her like an anxious father.

President Donald J. Trump was seen on television at a rally that morning pledging to get rid of “Liz Cheney’s world.” He told her that her speech might inflame tensions, and he feared for her safety. Was she sure she wanted to move on?

She told her father, “Sure.” “Nothing could be more important.”

Minutes later, Mr. Trump supporters penetrate the entrance, the members of the House of Representatives have been evacuated and the political future of Mrs. Cheney, who has never given her speech, is suddenly scrambled. Her promising rise in the House of Representatives, which friends say the former vice president has enthusiastically invested in and hopes to crown the speaker’s office, has been replaced by an entirely different mission.

“It’s about being able to tell your kids that you stood up and did the right thing,” she said.

Mrs. Cheney Entered Congress in 2017Her proportions have always ensured she has a standout look, albeit not in the way it has since been blown away. Her campaign to defeat the “persistent threat” and “intrinsic toxicity of a lost president” has put one of the more conservative members of the House of Representatives in a position unlike that of Cheney. Leader of the resistance and Republican pariahجمهور. Ms Cheney has vowed to be an opposing force, no matter how lonely that hunt may be or where it might lead, including the potential underlying challenge to Mr. Trump if he runs for president in 2024, a possibility she hasn’t ruled out.

Beyond terrifying politics, Cheney’s predicament is also a father-daughter story, full of dynasty echoes and ironies. Cheney has been an unapologetic figure in The Prince of Darkness throughout his career, always ready for doomsday scenarios and existential threats seen by America’s enemies, whether from Russia during the Cold War, Saddam Hussein after the 9/11 attacks, or the general threat. of tyrants and terrorists.

Cheney has come to see the current circumstances with Mr. Trump in the same appalling terms. The difference is that today’s threat lies within the party where her family has been royal for nearly half a century.

“He’s very upset for the country about what we’ve seen President Trump do,” Ms. Cheney said of her father. “He is a student of history. He is a student of the Presidency of the Republic. He knows the gravity of those jobs, and as he watched these events unfold, he must have been appalled.”

The day last month saw that Ms. Cheney house colleagues Toppled her as the third-ranked Republican Trump, she invited an old family friend, photographer David Hume Kennerley, to record her movements for posterity. After work, they repaired her parents’ home in McLean, Virginia, to dine on wine and a steak dinner.

“There may have been a little autopsy, but it wasn’t like a vigil,” said Mr. Kennerley, the official photographer for President Gerald Ford when Cheney was White House chief of staff. “Mostly, I had a real sense at that dinner of two parents who were so proud of their child and wanted to be by her side at the end of a bad day.”

Mr. Cheney declined to be interviewed for this article, but made a statement: “As a father, I am very proud of my daughter. As an American, I am deeply grateful to her for standing up for our Constitution and the rule of law.”

The Cheney family is a private and isolated brood, albeit not free from the tensions that have come to light in public. Cheney’s opposition to same-sex marriage during a brief Senate campaign in 2013 angered her sister, Mary Cheney, and Mary’s longtime partner Heather Poe. It was clear, then, when Mary conveyed full support to her sister after January 6.

She wrote in a Facebook post on January 7, “As many people know, Lee Wells has definitely had our differences over the years, but I am very proud of the way she handled herself during the Electoral College fight…Good big sister job.”

In an interview in Casper, Ms. Cheney, 54, spoke in urgent, clipped tunes in an unmarked conference room at the Dick Cheney Federal Building, one of her family’s many namesake places in the US that are least populous and most Trump-loving. . Her actions conveyed both determination and anxiety, as well as a sense of someone carrying a trapped stretch.

Mrs. Cheney had spent much of the last congressional vacation in Wyoming, yet she was rarely seen in public. The appearances she made – a visit to the Casper Chamber of Commerce, and the opening of a hospital (with her father) in Star Valley – were not announced in advance, largely for security reasons. She has received a string of death threats, threats common among major critics of Mr. Trump, and is now surrounded by newly released details from plainclothes agents.

Her campaign spent $58,000 on security from January to March, including three former Secret Service officers, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Ms. Cheney was recently tasked with protection from the Capitol Police, an unusual measure for a member of the House of Representatives not in a leadership position. The aura of the castle around Mrs. Cheney is reminiscent of her father’s “undisclosed safe location” in the days after the September 11 attacks.

Mrs. Cheney’s temperament bears the imprint of both parents, especially her mother, Lynn Cheney, a conservative scholar and commentator far more open-minded than her husband. But Mr. Cheney has long been the closest professional self to his eldest daughter, especially after he left office in 2009, and Ms. Cheney set aside long sessions to collaborate on writing his memoir, In My Times. Their work coincided with some of Cheney’s most serious heart conditions, including A period in 2010 when he was about to die.

His health stabilized after doctors installed a blood pump that kept him alive and allowed him to travel. This included flights between Virginia and Wyoming where Mr. Cheney was driving while dictating stories to Mrs. Cheney in the passenger seat, whose words were typing into a laptop. He underwent a heart transplant in 2012.

The father and daughter promoted the memoir in joint appearances, as Ms. Cheney met her father at venues across the country. “She was basically there with her dad to facilitate his return to health again on the public stage,” said former Senator Alan K. Simpson, a Wyoming Republican and longtime friend of the family.

By 2016, Mrs. Cheney had been elected to Congress and quickly rose to become the third Republican nominee, a position that her father also held. As much as Mr. Cheney has been Vice President, he has always considered himself a product of the House of Representatives, serving as the Wyoming Congressman General from 1979 to 1989.

Neither the father nor the daughter is inherently political in any traditional sense. Cheney was a conspiratorial and bureaucratic brawler, ambitious but in a quiet, secretive and elusive way in the eyes of many eyes. Ms. Cheney has largely focused on strategic planning and hawkish policymaking.

After graduating from Colorado College (thesis was “The Evolution of Presidential War Powers”), Ms. Cheney worked for the State Department and USAID while her father was Secretary of Defense. She attended University of Chicago Law School and worked at White & Case before returning to the State Department while her father was vice president. She wasn’t as shy or honest as her father – she was a cheerleader at Maclean High School – but she stopped running for office until the age of 40.

Once in the House of Representatives, Cheney was seen as a potential speaker — a combination of institutional background, hard-line conservatism, and partisan instincts. While she had reservations about Mr. Trump, she was selective with her criticisms and voted with him 93 percent of the time against his first impeachment.

As for Mr. Cheney, his concern about the Trump administration initially focused on foreign policy, although he eventually came to regard the 45th president’s performance as poor overall.

“I had a couple of conversations with the vice president last summer where he was really upset,” said Eric S. Edelman, a former US ambassador to Turkey, a Pentagon official in the George W. Bush administration and a family friend.

As a transplant recipient whose weakened immune system put him at grave risk of contracting Covid-19, Mr. Cheney has found that his disdain for the Trump White House has only grown during the pandemic. Also known as Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and admired him for many years.

At the same time, Ms. Cheney publicly endorsed Dr. Fauci and appeared to be poaching the White House last June when She tweeted, “Dick Cheney says wear a mask.” Above is a photo of her father – every little bit looking down on the sober western – in a face covering and a cowboy hat (“#realmenwearmasks”).

She has received notable support in her solo efforts from a number of high-ranking figures in the Republican establishment, including many of her father’s longtime colleagues in the White House. Former President George W. Bush, through his spokesman, made a point of thanking Cheney “for his daughter’s service” in a phone call to his former vice president on his 80th birthday in January.

Ms. Cheney wrapped up voting for Trump in November, but immediately regretted it. In her view, Mr. Trump’s post-election behavior has irreversibly gone beyond the pale. “For Liz, it was like, I can’t do it anymore,” said former Representative Barbara Comstock, R-Va.

Ms. Cheney returned last week to Washington, where she had little dealings with her former leading colleagues and was less reluctant to share her bleak vision for some of her Republican colleagues. On Tuesday, she criticized Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona for repeating “disgusting and despicable lies” about the actions of the Capitol Police on January 6.

“We have people to whom we have entrusted the perpetuation of the republic and they do not know what the rule of law is,” she said. Perhaps we need to do constitution camps for newly inaugurated members of Congress. clearly.”

She said her main pursuit now involves teaching the basics of civics to voters who have been mistaken by Mr. Trump and other Republicans who should know better. “I am not naive about the education that should continue here,” Ms. Cheney said. “This is serious. It is not complicated. I think Trump has a plan.”

Cheney’s plan itself has been the subject of much speculation. Despite being re-elected in 2020 by 44 percentage points, she faces a potential running path in 2022. Several Wyoming Republicans have already announced plans for initial challenges against Cheney, and her race is sure to be among the most-watched races in country next year. It will also provide a visual platform for her campaign to ensure Mr Trump never again approaches the Oval Office – an institution that could include a long-running initial bid against him in 2024.

Friends say that at a certain point, events – namely January 6 – came to override any narrow political concerns of Mrs. Cheney. “I may be Poliana here a little bit, but I think Liz is playing the long game,” said Matt Micheli, a Cheyenne attorney and former chair of the Wyoming Republican Party. Ms. Cheney confirmed it.

“That’s something that defines the nature of this republic going forward,” she said. “So I really don’t know how long that will take.”

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