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Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney faces the challenge of sounding the alarm in a time when people have become desensitized to warnings. Despite Donald Trump’s continued efforts to undermine the last election, he has managed to maintain his popularity within the GOP and an election denier has even become Speaker of the House. Additionally, prominent Republicans are now embracing election conspiracies as a means to achieve political success. Cheney must adapt her sense of alarm to address these alarming developments.
After her defeat in the 2022 Republican primary, Cheney transitioned from the U.S. Capitol to the esteemed Rotunda at the University of Virginia. Currently, she is engaged in lecturing on politics and penning her latest book, “Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning,” which is set to be published on Tuesday by Little, Brown.
Dickerson inquired if Cheney’s perspective on politics has changed over time. He asked if she now recognizes the tendency to vilify the opposing side, leading supporters to view them not simply as wrong, but as inherently evil.
“Definitely,” she responded. “When every action taken by a political opponent is met with relentless criticism, it becomes difficult for people to discern the severity of real issues. We are currently facing a truly critical situation with Donald Trump’s attempts to undermine the foundations of our republic. However, due to the constant barrage of negative rhetoric from politicians, the public may find it challenging to acknowledge the gravity of the situation.”
“Do you remember when you used to assert your unwavering conservative beliefs, confident that nobody could challenge your credentials? But what if being a conservative in today’s world hinges on just one thing: your unwavering support for Donald Trump?”
Cheney expressed her understanding of the term conservative and highlighted the importance of fidelity to the Constitution as the most fundamental conservative value. She noted that some individuals nowadays may be influenced by a cult of personality, which she viewed as contradictory to conservative principles.
Dickerson asked if a member of Congress can both defend the Constitution and endorse Donald Trump, considering they have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution.
“It’s inconsistent,” he replied firmly.
“They are violating their oath by expressing their desire for him to become the next president?”
“In my perspective, it ultimately comes down to making a choice,” Cheney expressed. “You cannot simultaneously support Donald Trump and uphold the Constitution. It is necessary to pick one or the other.”
Many individuals are opting for Donald Trump as their preferred choice.
“Yes, it is,” he replied.
After the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, Cheney stood out as one of the ten House Republicans who bravely voted to impeach Trump. Demonstrating her commitment to seeking justice, she subsequently joined the Democratically-led committee tasked with investigating the attack.
During the committee’s opening hearing in June 2022, Cheney boldly declared, “Tonight, I address my Republican colleagues who are attempting to defend the indefensible: A time will come when Donald Trump is no longer in power, but your dishonor will persist.”
When Liz Cheney, who was once the #3 leader in the House Republican Conference, faced rejection from her own party, she unexpectedly found support from California Democrat Nancy Pelosi, then-Speaker of the House. Cheney revealed that prior to this, she had hardly interacted with Pelosi. However, Pelosi’s staff compiled a list of the top ten negative remarks Cheney had made about her, which Pelosi dismissed, stating, “Why are you bothering me with things that don’t matter?” This unexpected alliance between the two politicians highlighted the complicated dynamics of the political landscape.
Dickerson inquired, “Would you reconsider your decision and retract some of the ten?”
“Oh, of course!” she chuckled. “We’ve all made comments about each other that we might now regret saying.”
Cheney arrived in Washington in 2016, alongside Donald Trump. Although she didn’t particularly like him, she endorsed his stance on matters such as abortion and gun control. She aligned with him on over 90 percent of the voting decisions. “Certainly, I believe that many of us within the Republican Party observed developments leading up to 2020 and dismissed them as just Donald Trump’s usual behavior. We didn’t take it seriously. However, what set the post-2020 election apart was the genuine attempt to overturn the election and seize control.”
In her book, Cheney provides a detailed account of the preparations made by Trump’s allies leading up to January 6. One of these allies was Congressman Mike Johnson from Louisiana, who was elected Speaker of the House in October. Cheney reveals that she and Johnson were once good friends, but she discovered that he was engaging in dangerous behavior. Johnson was knowingly taking wrongful actions without any basis in fact, law, or the Constitution. He repeatedly disregarded court rulings and the findings of state and federal courts regarding the elections in order to serve Donald Trump’s interests.
Dickerson inquired, “Did he not only assert facts without any evidence, but also facts that the courts had already deemed to be without merit?”
“Exactly right,” he said.
When we reached out to Speaker Mike Johnson for comment, his office responded to us on behalf of him. They stated that Cheney’s book does not provide an accurate depiction of the events mentioned. Despite this, Speaker Johnson wished her the best.
Web Extra: Liz Cheney Warns of the Peril in Republicans Embracing Trump
Cheney meticulously outlines every conversation she had with Johnson prior to January 6. Despite the fact that she anticipated her readers to be unfamiliar with his name, she believed that Johnson’s deceptive tactics were indicative of Republicans who not only acquiesce to Trump’s falsehoods but also amplify them. Little did she know that she was writing about a future Speaker.
Dickerson inquired whether the Speaker of the House was working in collaboration to overthrow the previous election.
“Without a doubt,” Cheney confirmed.
“What if Mike Johnson becomes the Speaker on January 6, 2025?”
According to Cheney, it is crucial to prevent a scenario where the 2024 election is decided by the House of Representatives under a Republican majority. She emphasized the gravity of the situation, referring to it as an existential crisis. Cheney stated, “We have to ensure that we don’t have a situation where an election that might be thrown into the House of Representatives is overseen by a Republican majority.”
“Do you prefer a Democratic majority?”
“I have a strong belief in the principles and ideals that have defined the Republican Party. However, the current version of the party has made a clear choice that does not prioritize the Constitution. As a result, I see it as a potential threat if the Republicans were to regain the majority in January 2025.”
Cheney is determined to clearly communicate the threat in hopes of breaking through the political numbness.
Dickerson inquired about the meaning behind the statement that if Donald Trump were to be re-elected, it would signify the downfall of the Republic.
According to Cheney, he has already outlined his plans. Cheney disagrees with those who believe that if he is elected, there is no cause for concern because there are checks and balances in place. He argues that these individuals fail to grasp the level of influence Republicans in Congress currently hold. Cheney warns that the country is unknowingly heading towards a dictatorship.
“Is Donald Trump a fascist?”
“I believe he is definitely using fascist techniques,” stated Cheney. “The tactics he employs are reminiscent of those used by authoritarians, fascists, and tyrants across the globe. Some of the things he has said and done are so outrageous that we have become desensitized to them. The pressing issue of our era is that we refuse to become numb, that we recognize the warning signs, comprehend the peril, and rise above partisan politics to thwart his agenda.”
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This story was produced by Ed Forgotson and edited by Carol Ross.