Rep. Liz Cheney says she’ll ‘absolutely’ run for reelection in ‘Today’ interview
WASHINGTON — Stripped of her leadership post in the House GOP, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., was obstinate during a “Today” show interview released Thursday, saying she will “absolutely” run for reelection and fight the Republican Party’s embrace of former President Donald Trump, conspiracy theories and authoritarianism.
When asked how she felt about the former president and his allies already strategizing on ways to oust her from her congressional seat, Cheney told interview Savannah Guthrie, “You know, bring it on.”
“As I said, if they think that they are going to come into Wyoming and make the argument that the people of Wyoming should vote for someone who is loyal to Donald Trump over somebody who is loyal to the Constitution, I welcome that debate,” she told the news station in an interview shortly after her House colleagues voted to remove her House GOP Conference chair Wednesday.
Cheney declined to comment on whether she would consider running against Trump in a potential Republican primary for the presidency.
“Right now I am very focused on making sure that our party becomes again a party that stands for truth and stands for fundamental principles that are conservative,” she told Guthrie.
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Though Cheney said she would not leave the Republican Party over its embrace of Trump, she added “it’s a scary thing” that the majority of Capitol Hill Republicans further embraced a president who continues to perpetuate conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and instigated, Cheney argued, the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
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The shift was most underscored by the difference between a failed February effort to oust Cheney from leadership, in which two-thirds of the caucus backed her, and the Wednesday voice vote where the caucus voted to remove her from leadership after meeting just a few minutes.
“For reasons that I don’t understand, leaders in my party have decided to embrace the former president who launched that attack,” the congresswoman said in the interview. “And I think you’ve watched over the course of the last several months, the former president get more aggressive, more vocal, pushing the lie.”
Cheney was especially off-put by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., telling “Today” that the GOP leader “is not leading with principle right now. And I think that it is sad and I think it’s dangerous.”
While McCarthy was among the Republicans vocally criticizing the president in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol insurrection, the minority leader quickly shifted tone after a visit to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, where the former president has decamped for much of his post-presidency.
“Leader McCarthy’s visit to the former president in Mar-a-Lago was really stunning,” Cheney said. “Given what the former president did, he’s not just the former president, he provoked an attack on the capitol, an attack on our democracy. So I can’t understand why you would want to go rehabilitate him.”
After the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans to reject the president’s claims and voted to impeach Trump in the final days of his presidency on a charge he incited the insurrection.
The small group has since received blowback from party leaders and voters, with Trump’s close allies already planning primary challenges against Cheney and other lawmakers who oppose his tightening grip on the GOP.
Cheney told the news program she’d do “whatever it takes” to prevent Trump from retaking the White House, calling him “unfit” and contending he “never again can be anywhere close to the Oval Office.”
“I intend to be the leader, one of the leaders, in a fight to help to restore our party, in a fight to bring our party back to substance and principle and in a fight to make clear that we won’t participate in the really dangerous effort that’s underway,” she told “Today.”
The Wyoming Republican, whose father was aninstitution in conservative politics for decades, was both a critic and defender of Trump at various points in his presidency. As Trump’s term progressed, Cheney’s quiet opposition to the ascendant Trump-allied faction of the party became a significant point of contention.
“This is really about something that’s much, much bigger than the Republican conference in the House. It’s a moment where we have to decide as a party whether we’re going to embrace the truth,” Cheney urged.
“I was very honest and I told [my fellow Republicans] I have real affection and admiration for most of them, and I love this institution, and we all have been put here in this moment by history, and history’s going to judge us.”
Follow Matthew Brown online @mrbrownsir.
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