Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol insurrection last year, took to the stage at the Reagan library on Wednesday evening, June 29, to once again urge her fellow conservatives to choose country over party – democracy over former President Donald Trump.
Cheney’s challenge to Republicans seemed to have wide support among the more than 700 people who gathered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, in Simi Valley, to hear her discuss the meaning – and cost – of freedom.
That backing contrasted with the way her oft-repeated warnings about the dangers of Trumpism have made the Wyoming Republican something of an iconoclast within her party.
Her appearance, which came the same day the Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed ex-White House counsel Pat Cipollone, was part of the organization’s ongoing “Time For Choosing” series that has attracted distinguished intellectuals, U.S. representatives and senators, governors and emerging 2024 presidential candidates — all seeking answers to fundamental questions and advancing ideas to animate the future of the party.
“People forget about the price of freedom,” Cheney said to the crowd. “Freedom only survives if we protect it. Today (we are) threatened from abroad and here at home.”
Cheney spoke about former President Donald Trump for several minutes and referred to him as an “unnerving, irrational” man who must be confronted.
“The argument (that) the threat of Donald Trump is to be ignored … we must not do that,” she said, adding that it was revealed in Jan. 6 committee testimony that he “summoned a mob to Washington, knew they were armed and angry, and refused to order rioters to leave.”
Cheney said this is painful for Republicans to accept. “We have a choice,” Cheney said. “We can’t be loyal to Donald Trump.”
Some believe that today’s Republican Party leaders have traded away too much of the party’s fundamental beliefs, doctrine and ideology centered on marriage and family, religion, law and order, honesty and truth and reliability — and instead have been too focused on getting reelected.
Kim McCleary of Thousand Oaks is a longtime Republican who came to hear Cheney speak, and says she feels that way.“(Many) do at any cost and all the time,” said McCleary. “We have been watching the Jan. 6 hearings and been so impressed with Liz Cheney’s professionalism and non-partisanship. We are looking for a calm voice of reason in this polarized political environment.”
Jim Blue has been a Republican all his life but turned independent this last election, saying Trump wasn’t an outstanding person. “I want to be a Republican again, but they need to stop the nonsense and get back to moderate values that make sense for the country,” said Blue, 70, of Thousand Oaks. “I want sanity put back in the discourse.”
Richard Burke called himself an on-the-fence Republican who believes in traditional values. She is able to “stand up and be an independent thinker,” said Burke, a Thousand Oaks resident. “I don’t have to agree with all of her positions to say that. She was impressive and she is on the world’s radar and I love it.”
Earlier Wednesday, Cheney urged Pat Cipollone, a former Trump White House counsel, to testify before the House Jan. 6 committee on which Cheney is vice chair. Cipollone, according to dramatic testimony before the committee from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, said he was concerned about then-President Donald Trump’s plans on Jan. 6.
On Twitter, Cheney wrote on Wednesday morning, “As we heard yesterday, WH counsel Pat Cipollone had significant concerns re. Trump’s Jan 6 activities. It’s time for Mr. Cipollone to testify on the record. Any concerns he has about the institutional interests of his prior office are outweighed by the need for his testimony.”
Followed by 427,400 people on Twitter, Cheney has since January posted a standing Twitter message with a link to video of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol in which she notes, “This was January 6th. This is not ‘legitimate political discourse.’”
She has been severely criticized by diehard Trump supporters, but praised by many as an independent leader and thinker who is trying to do the right thing.
This week, Republican leader and former senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming appeared a new campaign ad for Cheney’s race for Congress. Simpson told NBC News in an interview that the incumbent Cheney “is stating what is obvious to many Americans: That this is a wrecking ball of democracy.”
But there is little debate that Cheney is facing the political fight of her life in an August primary election against her former campaign advisor, Harriet Hageman.
Polls show Wyoming Republicans are unhappy with Cheney’s role decrying the events of Jan. 6 and think she should be paying more attention to worries in Wyoming, including inflation.
Cheney was one of 35 Republicans who joined all Democrats in the vote to set up the January 6, 2021 commission that is investigating the takeover of the U.S. Capitol. She was one of handful of Republican lawmakers who publicly backed the formation of the commission.
In September, Trump endorsed Hageman, the former advisor on Cheney’s 2014 Senate campaign — a campaign from which Cheney withdrew before the election. This year, early polls show Cheney far behind Hageman in her fight to keep her seat, with Hageman ahead by roughly 30 percentage points.
According to the Washington Post and others, the worried Cheney has begun sending Democratic voters in Wyoming instructions on how they can switch parties to vote for her in the Republican column.
The mailer reads, “How do I change my party affiliation to register as a Republican so I can vote for Liz?”
Cheney ended the evening in Simi Valley with this thought: “We must love our country, and stand above politics to protect her, and never yield in her defense.”
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