MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said Tuesday that former President Donald Trump is at war “with the rule of law and the Constitution” and that GOP lawmakers who sit by silently are aiding his efforts.
Cheney, a Trump critic who is vice chair of a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, said the challenge now is whether citizens will do their duty and “defend the Constitution and stand for truth.”
“Will we put duty to our oath above partisan politics or will we look away from the danger and the threat, embrace the lies and enable the liar?” Cheney asked, speaking at a First Amendment event in New Hampshire. “There is no gray area when it comes to that question, when it comes to this moment. There is no middle ground.”
Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection. Hundreds of Trump’s supporters violently pushed past police, broke into the U.S. Capitol building and interrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory in a futile bid to keep Trump in office.
Her fierce criticism of Trump and her insistence that Congress investigate the Capitol attack resulted in her being removed from her position as GOP conference chair and led to a serious primary challenge back home. Cheney, a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has framed Trump and the Jan. 6 insurrection as an existential fight for the Republican Party and for democracy itself.
“This nation needs a Republican Party that is based on truth,” she told the crowd at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications’ First Amendment Awards event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester. The crowd greeted her with polite applause and there were no protesters outside the event.
She called for a Republican Party “that puts forward our ideals and our policies based on substance, one that is willing to reject the former president’s lies. One that is willing to tell the truth that millions of Americans have been tragically misled by former President Trump, who continues to this day to use language that he knows provoked violence on January 6.”
Cheney said she has heard about people who downplay the Jan. 6 insurrection and say “it wasn’t that big of a deal because our institutions held.”
“To those people I say, our institutions do not defend themselves. We, the people, defend them,” she said. “Our institutions held on January 6th because there were brave men and women, elected officials at every level of our government who did their duty, who stood up for what was right, who resisted pressure to do otherwise.”
Some Republican Party officials in Wyoming announced in August they will no longer recognize Cheney as a party member because of her vote to impeach Trump. Several have also announced plans to challenge Cheney next year. Trump has endorsed Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman for the seat.
Cheney, for her part, has reported record fundraising, far exceeding the amount raised by her competitors.
On Tuesday, the Jan. 6 House committee issued subpoenas to 10 more former officials who worked for Trump at the end of his presidency, including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and senior adviser Stephen Miller.