U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney speaks at an event in Jackson on March 22, 2022. (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr./WyoFile)

Wyoming’s congressional contest is widely viewed as an intensely personal battle between GOP incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney and former President Donald Trump. And that’s accurate. 

Opinion

Whatever happens in the Aug. 16 primary, Cheney knows she’s on the right side of history. She may not be sent back to D.C., but she must believe keeping Trump out of the White House is worth the risk.

That was made clear during last week’s initial hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol assault on democracy.

Cheney expertly laid out evidence that Trump not only incited the insurrection, but continues to orchestrate a widespread conspiracy to subvert the will of American voters. It’s a damning case, and I’m sure it was satisfying for her to finally tell it to millions of people.

Cheney got to the heart of the matter. She was speaking to the entire country about her congressional colleagues, but it was also a direct message to Wyoming voters considering her political fate.

“We take our oath to defend the United States Constitution, and that oath must mean something,” she said. “Tonight I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

It’s tempting to say the committee’s prime-time event effectively knocked Trump back on his heels, which could boost Cheney’s chance to win a fourth term. To do so, though, is to fall into the trap of covering modern-day campaigns like horse races. How candidates jockey for position and who’s ahead on a particular day isn’t important.

Cheney has raised millions of dollars outside Wyoming, but her primary job until the election is to tell potential voters here that she’s not ignoring the state, and in fact her Jan. 6 committee work is benefiting them.

Cheney knows the extreme-right leaders of the Wyoming Republican Party have done a bang-up job convincing many voters she betrayed them by attacking Trump. Overcoming the odds and beating her Trump-endorsed challenger Harriet Hageman would be a huge political upset. 

But in this race, there’s much more than Cheney’s political future at stake. Our constitutional republic is on the line.  

Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him has long been determined to be one of the biggest whoppers ever told. He lost more than 60 lawsuits alleging voter fraud and corruption, and recount after recount in key states confirmed Joe Biden was legitimately elected. 

Cheney faces steep odds to overcome the steadfast belief of many Wyomingites that his “Big Lie” about the election is true, no matter what evidence is put in front of them. They’ll go to their graves never realizing — or admitting — they’ve been taken for suckers by the former grifter-in-chief.

For Republicans with an open mind, Cheney emphasized that the officials who testified Trump knew from the beginning his allegations were phony are members of his own party. 

Bill Barr, Trump’s attorney general, was a sycophant to his boss throughout his tenure on the job. But he voluntarily told the committee the truth.

If I was Cheney, I’d broadcast Barr’s candid assessment as many times as I could before Election Day. “I made it clear that I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit,” he said.

Barr also called Trump’s claim that Dominion voting machines used in several battleground states were rigged against him “complete nonsense.”

“I saw absolutely zero basis for the allegations, but they were made in such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people. … I told him it was crazy stuff, and they were wasting their time on that,” Barr said. “And it was doing a great, great disservice to the country.”

Trump’s statement the next day calling Barr a coward was true to form. “He sucked,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, his lame imitation of Twitter.

That juvenile rebuttal aside, the incredible damage Trump has inflicted on the country is not limited to his election lies. He tried to prevent the peaceful transition of power, violating his oath to the U.S. Constitution and trashing the rule of law.

Fortunately, Trump’s scheme to remain in power was clumsily executed. 

But nothing could keep Trump from calling on domestic terrorists like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to storm the Capitol. Members have been charged with seditious conspiracy, but as Cheney noted, the person who “summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack” must be held accountable.

I disagree with Cheney’s positions on almost every issue, but I share her outrage that House and Senate Republicans who denounced Trump’s tactics on the night of the Capitol siege now defend his delusional rants.

The testimony of Caroline Edwards, one of 140 law enforcement officers injured in the attack, was chilling. 

“I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood,” she said. “You know, I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage. It was chaos.”

Trump targeted Vice President Mike Pence for special abuse because Pence wouldn’t stop the official Electoral College count and declare him the winner.

Cheney said White House staff and family members literally begged the president to tell the rioters to stop, but he ignored them even as the mob chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!”

Cheney promised future testimony that shows the president was angry — but not with those hunting his vice president.

No, Cheney said, Trump told people “maybe our supporters have the right idea,” adding he thought Pence “deserves it.” Trump has denied making those despicable statements, but why would more than half a dozen members of his staff swear that he did?

The sad truth is some of Trump’s die-hard Wyoming backers don’t even mind that Pence’s life was threatened. It’s a mindset epitomized by what Marti Halverson, who cast one of the state’s three Electoral College votes  for Trump in 2020, told the Christian Science Monitor at his recent Casper rally for Hageman.

Halverson explained that when she was a state legislator, she received awful threats in her inbox. It’s routine for any politician these days, she said.

“‘Hang Mike Pence’ is nothing,” Halverson told the publication. Besides, she added, she doesn’t believe the rioters actually meant it. 

Does that work for you?

Trump is counting on enough Wyoming voters willing to trade our constitutional republic for a banana republic, as long as his candidates win and he’s put back in power. The problem Cheney must overcome is that a large chunk of the population believes he’s still the duly elected leader of the free world.

I think Cheney’s work as vice chairman of the Jan. 6 committee can turn her race around. But if we’re really living in a state where “Hang Mike Pence” means nothing, I’m afraid she’s already lost.

Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

Join the Conversation

46 Comments

Want to join the discussion? Fantastic, here are the ground rules: * Provide your full name — no pseudonyms. WyoFile stands behind everything we publish and expects commenters to do the same. * No personal attacks, profanity, discriminatory language or threats. Keep it clean, civil and on topic. *WyoFile does not fact check every comment but, when noticed, submissions containing clear misinformation, demonstrably false statements of fact or links to sites trafficking in such will not be posted. *Individual commenters are limited to three comments per story, including replies.

Your email address will not be published.

  1. It would be nice to have bi partisan committe investigate if there were “issues” with the election. There are several red flags in Michigan Wisconsin Georgia Arizona. Question is why wasnt forensic examination on the voting machine and its software ? Why wasn’t those questions put to bed. Maybe if that would of started 1-6 never took place.

  2. Never, ever been a Cheney supporter, but the way she has stood up for the Constitution and is against ANYONE threatening to destroy the rule of law in the U.S., she is a Wyomingite for the those values held dearly by a lot of Wyomingites. I would vote for her now, maybe not forever, but I love people who are not afraid to speak on their convictions and give the middle finger to those who think themselves above the law. Right on, Ms. Cheney.

  3. Good article which describes what is currently happening. I firmly support Liz Cheney. I have only one friend that does and I live in a Republican stronghold in the Big Horn Basin. There is little common sense left with many having radical ideas based upon extremely far-right news commentators and web postings. I greatly fear for America and what lies in store for my grandchildren.

  4. So, you’re admitting “she’s already lost” and your play is to vilify the many voters who will fire her through the democratic process. Thanks for the (weekly) laughs!!!

  5. Thank goodness we still have a secret ballot system. You don’t dare mention out loud that you might be thinking of voting for Liz Cheney here in NE Wyoming. I have yet to see a single Cheney yard sign sprout up anywhere in Weston County. When she is re-elected to the House I really truly fear for the safety of those of us who have refused to get with the pogrom…..Is it this way in other parts of our state as well?

  6. Another insightful article. Thanks, Kerry.

    There is something I wonder about. It is common these days to describe those who stormed the Capitol on January 6th, who refuse to accept the results of elections, who embrace white supremacy, and who believe that violence is justified in retaining political power as being on the far right. Is this accurate? The political spectrum is defined by the context of our constitution, helping describe the differing approaches to implementing its tenants and principles. It doesn’t seem to apply to those who wish to abandon it. For instance, were those who fired on Ft. Sumter in 1861 considered far-left Democrats? No, they never have been, although they at least accepted the fact that they had lost the 1860 election.

  7. Often, four decades – as a journalist or as a politician – mean less than four weeks! Kerry Drake is not a journalist: he’s one of a tiny core of Cheney sycophants who find the Nixonesque antics and sophomoric rhetoric of this self-serving family impressive and spell-binding! Look elsewhere for anything resembling the truth! Let the primary results speak for Wyoming .

  8. Simple Questions:
    Has Cheney well represented the various interests of our State?

    Has she been responsive to the
    Citizenry via constituent services?

    Has she grown with job and
    carried the water for Wyoming?

    The answer is yes, yes, and yes.

    I came around as a moderate Republican to understand that the House has about 110 Members who doers and not blind darlings of either caucus.

    Cheney gives Wyoming, a measured and intelligent voice during the current and emerging economic challenges we face as an nation.

    Cheney offers no histrionics and hype, just needed sober competence.

  9. I think it does a great disservice to Liz Cheney to say “ I disagree with Cheney’s positions on almost every issue”- except her position on Trump. That attitude and statement will ensure her loss. Middle roaders will not follow you and vote for Liz. It is a crazy way to support her.. . It is just a reaffirmation self defense statement of your liberal bias: ‘ I really do not want to vote for Cheney , but.. xxx.”

    Where do you compromise on other issues to get things done ? Where do you cross the aisle to say I agree some of your positions DO make sense for Wyoming ?
    Attitudes like yours ensure the continuation of the divisiveness in this country.

  10. Never imagined I’d vote for a Cheney (I will, though, in August primary). Never imagined a siege to the Capitol by the very populace it serves. I must lack imagination. But I’ve ears to hear and eyes to see.

  11. I’ve come to the conclusion that Trump supporters will never run out of making up excuses for him until they take their b.s. detectors into the shop for repair.

  12. It’s pretty hard to ignore the evidence put forth this week by the bipartisan committee and brings into question should there be criminal charges? Thankfully Liz Chaney values the construction the foundation of our country. To those who don’t value it there are other countries with different values maybe more in line with your thinking.

  13. Liz Cheney stands for the constitution, not the party or the man, the lying, horrid man. As big a bullshitter that ever lived. Yeesh, you all need to grow up and get a brain. I am really sorry for all the people who can’t think for themselves anymore. I don’t like her politics, but I admire her chutzpah. I watched the horror of the tRump years on TV news and was so glad that 80 million real voters prevailed. The “Big Lie” is just that, a Big Lie.

  14. The unsung hero of the 1/6 attempted coup was Mike Pence. He refused to go along with the plan to sabotage the peaceful transition of power. He knew the insurrectionists would come after him in particular, and that they would use their gallows if they got a chance. Look at the timeline and it’s clear we were within a hair’s breadth of a far greater tragedy and loss of life than what did occur. On thing the event did make apparent is all the weak points in the physical system and in the chain of command. We got lucky this time, and hopefully will have learned from it.

  15. The comments that attempt to distract and change the subject — a version of “whattabout”-ism — seem to leave the committee’s allegations unchallenged.

    1. This is not correct, and it’s typical of the willful distortions of fact coming out of the magasphere. Chairman Thompson did not say the Committee did not have the authority to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Instead, what he said in reference to criminal referrals was this: “No, you know, we’re going to tell the facts. If the Department of Justice looks at it, and assume that there’s something that needs further review, I’m sure they’ll do it.”

      This statement was misinterpreted by many, including by those opposed to the Committee’s existence (mostly Republicans), to mean that Thompson said that the Committee had no authority to make criminal referrals to the DOJ. This misinterpretation received immediate pushback from the Committee itself. As reported by CNN and Rolling Stone, “In a statement provided to CNN, a spokesperson for the committee said ‘the Select Committee has no authority to prosecute individuals, but is rather tasked with developing the facts surrounding the January 6th riot at the Capitol. Right now, the committee is focused on presenting our findings to the American people in our hearings and in our report. Our investigation is ongoing and we will continue to gather all relevant information as we present facts, offer recommendations and, if warranted, make criminal referrals.’ ”

      That is, what the Committee cannot do is prosecute. It can, however, most certainly make criminal referrals to the DOJ for prosecution.

      Indeed, if one looks at the legislation creating the Committee, House Resolution (HR) 503, passed on 30 June 2021, one looks in vain for any prohibition on making criminal referrals. The Resolution charges the Committee, in part, to “issue a final report to the House containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures ….” Such recommendations for corrective measures “may include changes in law, policy, procedures, rules, or regulations that could be taken—(1) to prevent future acts of violence, domestic terrorism, and domestic violent extremism, including acts targeted at American democratic institutions; (2) to improve the security posture of the United States Capitol Complex while preserving accessibility of the Capitol Complex for all Americans; and (3) to strengthen the security and resilience of the United States and American democratic institutions against violence, domestic terrorism, and domestic violent extremism.” By using the word expansive word “may,” the Resolution thus gives authority to the Committee to take actions not specified in the legislation as long as those actions achieve the purposes of 1-3 above. That is, making criminal referrals is entirely up to the discretion of the Committee. The magasphere may not like it, but that’s how the law works.

      It appears to me that at bottom the issue of criminal referrals is not at all one of legal authority, but of politics. There is still disagreement among Committee members on the wisdom of making criminal referrals, with some, like Chairman Thompson, worried about the appearance of crass political motives for any referrals for criminal prosecution, while others, Congresswoman Cheney among them, are determined to go where the facts take them, and if the facts point to criminal activity, then referrals to DOJ and prosecution are not just proper, but absolutely necessary for the good of the country.

      The Committee members are still hashing out this important issue, and if referrals are to be made, discussing how best to make them. We’ll see where things go.

      https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/jan-6-committee-trump-criminal-referral-1367769/

      https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/14/politics/january-6-committee-divide-bennie-thompson/index.html

      https://www.congress.gov/117/bills/hres503/BILLS-117hres503eh.pdf

      1. ‘“That’s not our job. Our job is to look at Jan. 6. What caused it and make recommendations after that … We don’t have the authority,” Thompson told reporters Monday night.’

        He said it. And then he walked it back with the quote you referenced . . . . the next day.

        https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/3522587-jan-6-panels-chair-sparks-pushback-with-criminal-referral-remarks/

        The committee is purely partisan: only Cheney and Kinzinger voted for HR 503 and were rewarded with seats on the committee, while the selections made by Republicans were prevented from participating. A partisan weaponized committee in search of confirmation bias will always find it. Lady Justice wears a blindfold for a reason.

        “You shall not distort justice, you shall not show partiality; and you shall not accept a bribe, because a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous.” Deut. 16:19

        1. Only 2 of the chrump lemmings weren’t allowed on the committee; Jordan and Banks. This was due to their involvement in the insurrection. The other chrump lemmings that McCarthy nominated were eligible. But, McCarthy pulled all chrump lemmings after the two traitors weren’t allowed.

          Your revisionist history is glaring.

          1. You didn’t disprove anything. In fact, you confirmed the partisanship of the process and the committee. McCarthy selected Jordan, Banks, Kelly, Armstrong, and Nehls: Jordan and Banks were rejected by Pelosi without explanation. McCarthy pulled all submissions from an obviously partisan process. Cheney and Kinzinger were not selected by Republicans, defied leadership by participating, and were appropriately censured. They were the only 2 “Republicans” who voted to establish the committee in the first place.

            Is it really too much to ask you to focus on facts, without your predictable name calling and “glaring” anti-conservative and anti-Trump bias?

  16. So

    I am just wondering when can we start being nice to each other again.

    What happened to that concept in Wyoming? The let’s be nice to our neighbor and help our neighbor. The reality is that the world is messed up right now and spreading lies and hate just make it worse.

  17. A partisan tv production force-fed to America on almost every major network, and still the Nielsen ratings were no different from a typical tv weeknight. Cheney is now in bed with the likes of Schiff and Rankin, the same partisans who drove the false Russia “collusion” narrative. Nothing can save Cheney from herself.

  18. Do we need any more proof that this “show trial” produced by Hollywood producer James Goldston and read entirely from teleprompters is avoiding the truth than Cheney’s deliberate refusal to read the exculpatory evidence on one of her first exhibits, which was a large screen Trump tweet which read “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

  19. Anyone that buys into Cheney standing for the Constitution is a fool. If she truly revered the Constitution she would have been fighting to release the many political prisoners held in jail for the January 6th demonstration. Many have been charged with nothing other than trespassing. They are being held in abominable conditions and even after one year are unable to get bail or have a fair trial. Due process under the law is just an afterthought for Liz. She is truly horrid.

  20. Reading the comments of my fellow wyomingites saddens me I know a lot of you will ‘ride for the brand’ until the horse dies but I ask that you think a minute. These people testifying have put their hand on a bible and sworn to tell the truth under pain of perjury and 20 years in jail . Have the people your listening to done that? The only ones that have had to have ‘taken the fifth’ on the grounds that they might incriminate themselves in a crime.

  21. Hilarious. I needed a good laugh this morning! 80 million ballots (many fake) not 80 million votes put spaghetti brains in the WH. TDS is real and Liz has the worst case ever.

  22. Wyomingites should recall that Liz Cheney voted for Trump- endorsed legislation more than 92 percent of the time. So it must have taken a lot for her to turn against him as she did so clearly, concisely and convincingly in the dramatic first hearing .if nothing else should convince Wyoming voters that she stand for their politics it should be her obvious intelligence and abity to resist mind control and cast aside a false golden idol herself. Doesn’t it bother you that Trump collected millions from you for a cause that didn’t exist with one last fundraising effort occurring minutes before his thugs tried to take over the Capitol? If not , you are revealing yourselves not not as rugged individualists but brainwashed sycophants. Not the Wyoming people I used to know!.

  23. Was Cheney ever a Cowboy? She is a swamper and consistently votes that way. Has made millions in DC along with her family. We had $2.00 gas under 45. Best man for America in my lifetime. Biden proves the bureaucrats currently run DC and president is just a figurehead.

  24. Heather Cox Richardson reported this morning in her “Letters from An American” that former (and last) Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien is now working with Harriet’s Hageman’s campaign to unseat Liz Cheney as Wyoming’s sole Representative to Congress. Stepien testified yesterday (by video) in the January 6 House Committee hearing that he knew from the beginning of the post-election chaos that Trump’s votes weren’t adding up and that he was losing the election to Joe Biden. He testified that he had told Trump so and had also told him not to make any announcements until the numbers were more clear. Of course, Trump immediately started throwing out “stolen election,” laying out the next phase of Trumpian presidential politics: violent insurrection. And here we are.

    Funny thing is: campaigning for Harriet Hageman, Bill Stepien is helping Harriet spread the same Trumpian lies about electoral fraud and by implication, legitimizing Trump’s violent insurrection on 6 January 2021. I guess Stepien’s more or less contrite mea culpa testimony to the Jan 6 Committee was just for show.

    Let’s not forget Harriet’s first campaign ad. She made a big deal about riding for Wyoming’s brand, but in the same ad she made it clear she was also riding for Trump’s brand. As we know, Trump doesn’t tolerate anyone riding for any brand other than his own. There is no “also.” (Just ask Alabama’s Mo Brooks about that). Clearly, Harriet has no intention of working for Wyoming. She’s working for Trump and only Trump.

    To cut to the chase, we all know Wyoming’s next Representative to Congress will be a Republican. Does anyone doubt that? The real question is, will it be Liz Cheney, who works for constitutional governance, or Harriet Hageman, who works for Trumpian klepto-fascism? (Harriet’s also working to privatize Wyoming’s public lands, waters, and wildlife, but that’s another matter).

    I implore Wyoming’s Democrats and Independents to think strategically for the good of Wyoming and the country as a whole and change their registration to Republican to vote for Liz Cheney in the upcoming August primary. We can fight over the other issues later. But there will be no later should Trumpism become the political norm in the United States of America.

    1. I learned much about Wyoming from your comments. I am a West Coaster trying to learn more about the rest of my country. I am a militant moderate that splits her tickets, so I appreciate your wise comments.

    2. Great column, Kerry, and excellent comment, Robert! Glad to see you’re still in there speaking out. We’ve had the same thoughts about Stepian as you. (There’s a man for whom the money is the be all/end all. Forget principle.) We have to say we’re shocked at how many of the commenters here have drowned themselves in the Kool-aid. We’ve never agreed with a single one of Liz Cheney’s positions, but she is one of very few who understands that first you swear an oath, and then you follow it, no matter what. A profile in courage, and she’ll be remembered in history long after Stepian, Harriet, and the many tRumpers who have been so deluded they’re willing to continue to send money to the biggest grifter in the US! If we were still in Wyoming, we’d do exactly as you recommend. Anyone who cares about the future of our democracy should follow your lead. We’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination! As Ben Franklin warned, “We’ve given you a constitutional republic, if you can keep it.”

  25. President Donald Trump had 2 main faults, he is a conservative, he is definately not a part of the insider deep swamp. On top of that, he has a big mouth and told it like it is, no frills, no sugar coating, that alone is intolerable to big shot insiders in politics, they live in a dreamland that only they can bring about.

    1. How many documented and proven lies did your lord and savior tell while in office? Lying is “telling it like it is?”

      The chrump lemmings are the equivalent to political flat earthers.

      1. Compare the well being of America and we, the people today ($5.00/gal gas) and our well being when Trump was president. The problem is Trump was only supposed to bankroll politicians….not become one himself and deprive them of usiung his money.

  26. The courage of the people who speak out exemplifies the best of Americans. Cheney, the federal judge from Atlanta who resigned rather than do Trump’s bidding, the Fox anchor, the PA voting official, these are secret heroes. Cheney stands head and shoulders above the Trump crowd. She inspires the best in all of us. She wins and we win through her example. Sometimes ya gotta fight the bad guys no matter the cost. It is all worth it, Liz Cheney.

      1. Wyoming is getting too many gullible bigots who believe everything they read on the internet and hear on fox News.

  27. Thank you for speaking out, Sir. One person at a time the American people will quietly, in the absolute privacy of the secret ballot box, defeating the little banana republic dictator in waiting. One at a time.

    1. Dan Davies – please elucidate why you believe we should watch Dinesh D’Souza’s latest twisted truth propaganda film ‘ 2000 Mules ‘. Please be specific.

      In your spare time, do a Google search for ” fact check 2000 Mules ” and dive right in headfirst to those cold dark truthy waters…