A photo from Rep. Liz Cheney's (R-Wyoming) Facebook page of a 2018 campaign event. (Facebook)

Like the Big Bad Wolf, the National Republican Committee huffed and puffed and tried with all its might to blow down Donald Trump’s biggest enemy.

Opinion

But U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney is still standing, and the GOP’s leaders look worse for wear. If the best the party can do is give some money to her opponent, its attack on Wyoming’s congresswoman is much ado about nothing.

The censure of Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois by their own party Friday was unprecedented, but hardly surprising. The once proud and effective RNC has degraded itself into Trump’s personal attack dog — and a toothless one at that.  

There’s an inherent problem for the disgraced former president. The more Trump and his surrogates throw at Cheney, the stronger she gets.

Cheney and Kinzinger voted for Trump’s second impeachment after he incited the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol. They have denounced him since that day, but unlike Cheney, Kinzinger isn’t running for re-election. Trump is singularly obsessed with destroying Cheney’s political career.

How’s it going? Well, her extreme-right state party immediately censured her for her loyalty to the Constitution. Then colleagues removed Cheney as chairman of the House Republican Conference, the party’s No. 3 position in the chamber, for refusing to just get over Trump’s attempted coup.

But anyone who expected Cheney to cower in fear doesn’t know her very well. She and Kinzinger took more active roles as the only Republicans serving on the House committee investigating what happened before, during and after the Jan. 6 attack on democracy. As vice chairman, Cheney has been a burr under Trump’s saddle.

She pointedly noted the panel isn’t playing games. “Any communication Mr. Trump has with this committee will be under oath,” Cheney said in a statement reported by the Washington Examiner. “And if he persists in lying, then he will be accountable under the laws of this great nation and subject to criminal penalties for every false word he speaks.”

Later, Cheney said the committee will investigate whether Trump, “through action or inaction,” sought to obstruct or impede Congress’ official count of electoral votes. That’s also a serious federal crime.

Once public hearings start, the heat on former Trump officials and their boss will intensify. 

Trump and Cheney both earned about 70% of the vote in Wyoming in 2020. The difference is she kept her job, and is using it to daily gather evidence against him. No wonder he’s tried to make her Republican Enemy No. 1.

Now, Trump has sicced the national GOP on Cheney. Many people around the country, including the media, think her political career is toast.

Kerry Drake

Yes, many Wyoming Republicans were outraged by her impeachment vote. But it’s reasonable to believe as Trump continues to perpetuate the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from him — with zero credible evidence to back it up — that some voters are growing tired of this nonsense.

Trump interviewed several candidates seeking his endorsement, and he handed it to Harriet Hageman. The Cheyenne attorney is far from a household name as the third-place finisher in the 2018 GOP primary for governor.

Hageman came with her own anti-Trump baggage. As a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention, she actively opposed his nomination.

Cheney’s fundraising has been remarkable, with donations of nearly $7.2  million. In October through December, the first quarter of her head-to-head match-up with Hageman, Cheney outraised her by more than four-to-one.

A larger proportion of Hageman’s total contributions are from Wyoming donors. But given the national interest in this race, both candidates will get far more out-of-state contributions than in a typical contest.

Money isn’t everything. While some voters have likely already made up their minds based on their feelings about Trump, others will wait to see what happens. Because independent and Democratic voters can register for the GOP primary on election day, they’ll have an important say in the outcome, a factor many pundits overlook.

After the RNC censure, Cheney was typically defiant.

“I’m a constitutional conservative and I do not recognize those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump,” she tweeted. “History will be their judge. I will never stop fighting for our constitutional republic. No matter what.”

Cheney and Kinzinger are in some pretty good company condemning the horrendous events of Jan. 6.

Who said this on that infamous day? “These violent scenes we have witnessed do not represent acts of patriotism, but an attack on our country and its founding principles. Our Founding Fathers established a nation of laws, not a nation of anarchy.”

That was the official statement of the Republican National Committee. “What happened today was domestic terrorism,” added Michael Ahrens, communications director.

In its complete whitewash of the insurrection, the committee now says, “Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger are participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

The RNC got it right the first time. The mob that Trump sent to the Capitol to “fight like hell” and stop the peaceful transition of power injured 140 police officers. 

Rioters called for the hanging of Mike Pence, Trump’s own vice president, because he wouldn’t halt the certification of Electoral College votes. As the halls of Congress were invaded, Republicans and Democrats alike ran for their lives.

It’s obscene to say that any of this criminal behavior was “legitimate political discourse.”

The RNC’s censure is pure political theater. It means nothing.

But what could negatively impact Cheney’s chances in the Aug. 16 primary is the party’s resolution to recognize Hageman as the party’s presumptive congressional nominee. Orchestrated by the Wyoming delegation, the unconventional move opens the door for the national party to contribute to the challenger of a sitting member of Congress.

That’s absolutely amazing. But it also appears to violate Wyoming election law, which clearly states that “no political party funds shall be expended directly or indirectly in the aid of the nomination of any one person as against another person of the same party running in the primary election.”

One can’t help but wonder if the attempted legal end run is an early sign of fundraising desperation. 

The RNC handed Cheney and two other contenders, State Sen. Anthony Bouchard of Cheyenne and Denton Knapp of Gillette, a major campaign talking point. Cheney’s camp is already running with it. 

“[Wyoming GOP Chairman] Frank Eathorne and the Republican National Committee are trying to assert their will and take away the voice of the people of Wyoming before a single vote has even been cast,” Jeremy Adler, a Cheney spokesman, said.

More than six months remain in what will be the most closely watched election in Wyoming’s history. In what may be a huge political miscalculation, Trump has made a three-term congresswoman who voted for his positions nearly 95% of the time an underdog!

Knowing she has a fistful of cards to play as vice chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, he has staked his hold on the party on his ability to topple Cheney.

Trump hand-picked her opponent and vowed to raise a mountain of money for Hageman (though I’m sure none of it will come out of his own pocket).

Now, Trump has sicced the national GOP on Cheney. Many people around the country, including the media, think her political career is toast. They’re convinced she can’t win.

But what if she does? Trump will claim the Wyoming election was rigged, of course. 

It reminds me of another fairy tale, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” In defeat, with his name not even on the ballot, Trump could cement his reputation as the nation’s biggest sore loser. 

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...

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  1. Oops, not going Lizzie’s way, hey Kerry?

    By ALLY MUTNICK
    05/27/2022 04:31 AM EDT
    GOP Rep. Liz Cheney is down 30 points in a new survey of her August primary conducted by the Club for Growth, which is opposing the embattled incumbent.

    The poll, which provides perhaps the starkest illustration yet of the political peril Cheney faces this year, shows Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman garnering 56 percent of the vote to Cheney’s 26 percent in the GOP primary. A third Republican got 12 percent support, and just 6 percent are undecided.

  2. Well Kerry you’re prediction has gone poof. Dizzy Lizzy is way behind. It’s all over but the crying for Liz.

  3. Kerry and Co,

    I live in Sydney Australia but follow geo-politics intently and stumbled across you RE: GOP nominee contest Cheney/Hageman which is of interest to me. But will make comments on this later

  4. If you look at the motivations of the head of the RNC, Ronna Romney McDaniel, she owes her job to Trump and a so called little old lady from Michigan that got subpoenaed for her role in the plot to over throw Biden’s election. Kathy Berden is that little old lady and while she was not in DC on January 6th, she actively participated in a plan to send fraudulent electors to DC to replace the legitimate Michigan electors. Ronna might be guilty of a cover-up and used her power to try to stop the J6 committee from revealing that conspiracy.

    Participating in a fraud to thwart the will of 81 million voters is not Legitimate Political Discourse; it is a crime and one that deserves punishment.

    Its funny that this little old lady, Kathy Berden, is the same age as Hilary Clinton was when she faced the Benghazi committee and the RNC never seemed hesitant to want to lock her up? Hillary did nothing wrong, but my my Kathy is going to be the one locked up and maybe Mitt Romney’s niece will be too?

  5. In defeat, with his name not even on the ballot, Trump could cement his reputation as the nation’s biggest sore loser. The sore loser part is true. He needs to pull up his panties and get over it Sorry Trump, you LOST!

  6. I put a lot of stock in a free press; indeed, I cherish it. Their number one obligation is ‘truth to power’, but when our institutions, e.g., media, education, etc., are so unbalanced, they end up being a megaphone for those in power, which is more of a mark of fascism than democracy. It’s all very sad. I like WyoFile in many ways, but why have only one lone left-leaning commentator? I don’t begrudge Drake for his leanings, but where is the ideological balance? When I check in on WyoFile, is it serendipitous that I always seem to miss him/her?

    This Jan 6 committee, so they tell us, is after truth. However, watch the timing of their best case against Trump; it may coincide at an opportune moment to affect the primary election. Why has it taken so long to provide substantive data, or did I miss all of that? Why hold American citizens without due process for so long? Only recently did the first charges come down. They have labeled it an insurrection. But wait. They came without weapons, without guns. What idiot planned that coup?

    If you want a more substantive insurrection, look at the year-plus long damage inflicted on our major cities. Look at the arson of the central police headquarters in major cities across the US, driving police from their very center of operations. Where are those committees? Where are those arrests? Where are those people being detained? Or did I miss all of that too?

    As to the Constitutional issue between Pence and Trump, it has to do with reading between the lines. Is the VP simply a ceremonial role in the certification process? If there is real cause for concern about the legitimacy of an election, could the VP intervene? I’ll leave those issues to Constitutional lawyers; it is beyond my pay-grade.

    But for common folk such as myself, it’s a bit hypocritical to shout “The Constitution and our very Democracy are at stake!” when you turn the other way and let anarchy rule our cities for over a year and order the police to stand down. It reeks of politics and power grab. I look forward to the debates between Cheney and Hageman. Both are capable women and hopefully ‘truth to power’ will win out.

    1. Why has it taken so long to provide substantive data, or did I miss all of that?
      Evidently you missed a lot. It took so long because senate Republicans refused to authorize a bipartisan investigation. It took so long because house republicans attempted to seat Trump supporters on the select committee who had no interest in finding the truth but rather in defending Trump. It took so long because Trump refused to turn over documents and extended his appeals all the way to the supreme court. Your references to riots in US cities in 2020 is simply more whataboutism and false equivalency.

    2. Nate arrests were made in burning down those state and locally owned buildings. In fact a number of people have gone to jail. Those that participated in those illegals acts seemed to know they were doing wrong, hence they did not film themselves or brag about conducting those illegal acts. Therefore it is has been harder to find, identify or report on those incidents, but I assure justice was attempted.

      What happened on January 6th was far different, as a group was seemingly given permission to attack our Democracy and overthrow the results of a valid election. The persons rioting this summer were mad at police and IMHO rightfully so, but chose the wrong means to express their frustrations. But with that said they were not out to over throw our Constitution and install a Dictator.

      It is clear that those that have been arrested for J6 Insurrection are receiving the “due process” that our Constitution requires but they are going to be convicted because they are obviously guilty. Your assessment that it cannot be a coup, because there were no guns is another false premise that those on the right bleat, without studying the actual planning for that day. There were guns stashed all over the DC area that day with traitors standing by to retrieve them and use them. If I recall there were a couple of pipe bombs planted, but did not go off and that person has not been arrested. Had things gone slightly different that day, like maybe a congressman getting killed, then who knows what would have transpired? There were multiple options open to Trump and many of those would have stopped the peaceful transfer of power. So comparing summer riots to an actual coup is frankly disingenuous and divisive.

      What Cheney knows and frankly every citizen should understand, is that had Trump been successful at his coup, the USA would never have had free and fair elections again. Are you willing to trade our Constitution for Trump? Seemingly the Wyoming GOP and voters are saying yes. Appalling really.

      To be honest Senator Barrasso has already done that trade as he should have voted to convict Trump on impeachment. The Senate is suppose to be a check on abusive power and Barrrasso just laughed it off as he sat in the Senate Chamber with his buddy Lindsey Graham. The electorate of Wyoming should really examine where the problems of government lay and its in a Senate that does not do their job. Take notice that Senators Barrasso and Lummis are failing at their Constitutional oversight duties.

  7. Of course Cheney makes a great VP on the next GOP ticket,the Trumps go way back to the Red Mafia in Brighton Beach,aka Little Odessa.Americans should become aware of Putin’s criminal elements in the political arena,Trump’s aren’t the only ones controlled by Moscow,of course China plays the long game.Liz Cheney will become a John McCain Conserative,a true Leader.oao

  8. Whatever happened to the GOP? Whatever happened to the Republican Party that bit the Watergate bullet 50 years ago and yet trudged on to emerge stronger?
    Rebirth does come from the ashes, but the ashes must come first — just like Nietzsche says.

  9. “In defeat, with his name not even on the ballot, Trump could cement his reputation as the nation’s biggest sore loser. ”

    From your lips to God’s ears, Kerry!

  10. And here I thought the people of Wyoming were patriots with backbone. The Wyoming GOP, like the RNC, has shown itself to be a bunch of gutless, cowering, nut job sycophants. Move to Russia. You’d like it there. The US would be well-served with Cheney as president.

  11. Kerry Drake is correct. When the next volume of ‘Profiles in Courage’ is written, Cheney will be a chief protagonist but the Trump cult, including Eathorne, Hageman, Bouchard, Correnti and the rest of the third-raters, will be forgotten.

  12. Hageman who? What? Think about it.
    Its an anybody but Liz approach.
    Be careful Wyoming GOP, you have made a serious mistake. When the Former President says jump and you say how high, that is demonstration that Wyoming independence is at risk. You are being used. Its not about Congresswoman Cheney its about you. She has Wyoming backbone.

  13. “The Truth has no defense against a fool determined to believe a lie.” Mark Twain
    ‘”When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent.” Isaac Asimov
    These two quotes adequately describe today’s Republican Party. Representative Cheney is one of only a very few Republicans with the moral courage, integrity, and intelligence who is willing to speak out against the lies and fascism of the Trump administration and his deceitful sycophants.

    1. The comments from Ron Smith (below) summarize perfectly my reaction to the RNC’s position on Liz Cheney and her willingness to speak the truth. Apparently the RNC and many of its members are no longer interested in elective office because voters, in general, dislike being lied to, irrespective of the candidate’s party affiliation.