Voices: Liz Cheney just showed she no longer gives a damn about the Republican Party

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Capitol Riot Investigation (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Capitol Riot Investigation (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

When January 6 committee Chairman Bennie Thompson tested positive for Covid, it fell to Congresswoman Liz Cheney to lead the panel through its latest hearing.

During her opening remarks, Cheney said that the committee would spend the August recess reviewing emerging information before reconvening for hearings in September, thus confirming a report from friends of the newsletter Haley Talbot and Ali Vitali of NBC News. But when Cheney returns to Washington in the fall, she might be doing so as a political zombie.

Wyoming will soon hold the primary for her at-large district, and the Congresswoman is at great risk of losing her seat to Harriet Hageman, whom former president Donald Trump has endorsed. Cheney seems to understand she might well lose – and this past week, she’s taken a number of steps to show she simply no longer cares about toeing the Republican Party line.

In her opening remarks at last night’s hearing, Cheney recalled that “Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy was scared” during the riot – a clear dig at the House Minority Leader, who has endorsed Hageman’s challenge against her. Cheney and McCarthy have a fraught relationship, thanks to her repeated criticisms of Trump and the stranglehold he still has on the GOP. Her refusal to back down on these points ultimately led to her removal as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

And earlier this week, Cheney was one of 47 Republicans who voted with Democrats to codify same-sex marriage. She told 60 Minutes last year that she was wrong to oppose same-sex marriage when she first sought higher office, which led to a feud with her sister Mary Cheney, who is a lesbian and has been married to her wife Heather for years.

It’s one thing to endorse same-sex marriage in principle, and another to support it in practice — especially when Democrats propose the legislation to codify same-sex marriage in response to fears the Supreme Court will overturn it. When I asked her why she voted for the Democratic bill, Cheney repeated a line from last year — one used by her father, former vice president Dick Cheney, when he endorsed marriage equality himself: “Freedom means freedom for everybody.”

Similarly, on the Thursday before the hearing, she and seven other Republicans voted to protect access to contraception. Many of the other Republicans who voted for both pieces of legislation are either not facing competitive primaries, have already won them, or – like her fellow heretic Republican and select committee member Adam Kinzinger – are retiring.

But Cheney’s vote really could seal her political fate. She isn’t going down without a fight: as The New York Times has reported, she is actively courting Democrats to change their voter registration to vote for her in next month’s primary. But that might not be enough to overcome Hageman, who enjoys the backing of both the House GOP leadership and Donald Trump himself.

Nevertheless, Cheney has shown she simply doesn’t care what they have to say about her anymore. In her closing remarks at the hearing, she faulted the “50, 60, and 70-year-old men” who “hide themselves behind executive privilege” to avoid testifying to her panel, even as young women like former Trump administration aides Cassidy Hutchinson and Sarah Matthews have stepped up.

“Like our witnesses today, she has courage and she did it anyway,” Cheney said of Ms Hutchinson.

One might think she could say the same about men like Trump and McCarthy, and about women like herself.

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