Rep. Liz Cheney said Wednesday that the Republican Party must choose between following former President Donald Trump or adhering to the U.S. Constitution.
Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s “A Time For Choosing” speaker series in Simi Valley, California, Ms. Cheney said the GOP has a clear decision to make moving forward.
“The reality we face today as Republicans as we think about the choice in front of us, we have to choose, because Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution,” she said, drawing applause from the crowd.
Ms. Cheney said, “We must not elect people who are more loyal to themselves or to power than they are to our Constitution.”
Ms. Cheney, a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has emerged as Mr. Trump’s biggest Republican critic on Capitol Hill.
She is among the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and has criticized GOP leaders for not confronting Mr. Trump over his stolen election claims.
She has paid a price for it.
Ms. Cheney was booted from House GOP leadership; the Wyoming GOP voted to no longer recognize her as a Republican; and the Republican National Committee passed a resolution censuring her and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois for sitting on the Jan. 6 select committee.
Mr. Trump also is backing one of Ms. Cheney’s challengers, Harriet Hagemen, in the August Republican primary.
Ms. Cheney has nonetheless stood her ground, welcoming the primary battle and taking center stage in the Jan. 6 committee hearings that have cast Mr. Trump in a negative light.
Ms. Cheney on Wednesday defended her credentials, saying the Biden administration’s policies are out of sync with her vision as “a conservative Republican.”
“I believe deeply in the policies of limited government, of low taxes, of a strong national defense,” she said. “I believe the family is the center of our community and our lives.”
“I also know at this moment we are confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before and that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic and he is aided by Republican leaders and elected officials who made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man,” she said.
Ms. Cheney said some Republicans continue to embrace Mr. Trump and enable his lies, while others have urged their GOP colleagues that “we not confront Donald Trump, that we look away.”
“That is certainly the easier path,” she said. “But to argue the threat posed by Donald Trump can be ignored is to cast aside the responsibility every citizen, every one of us bears, to perpetuate the Republic,” she said. “We must not do that and we cannot do that.”
Ms. Cheney called for more civility back to politics. She said elected leaders must learn to disagree on substance, and move away from the vitriol that feeds into polarization.
“We stand at the edge of an abyss and we must pull back,” she said. “We must pull back.”
Ms. Cheney also praised the witnesses that have testified before the Jan. 6 committee, including Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as an assistant to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
“Her superiors, men many years older, a number of them, are hiding behind executive privilege, anonymity and intimidation, but her bravery and her patriotism were awesome to behold,” she said.
Ms. Cheney said she served as an example for young girls across the country what it really means to “love this country” and “to be a patriot.”
“There are no bystanders in a constitutional republic and let me say this to the little girls and young women who are watching tonight,” she said. “These days, for the most part, men are running the world, and it is really not going that well.”