U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., called former Republican ally Harriet Hageman’s challenge for her seat “tragic opportunism” in a Friday morning call with Wyoming media.
Cheney said her oath to the Constitution was “above politics,” and that Hageman, a Cheyenne attorney, took a similar oath to uphold the rule of law as a member of the Wyoming State Bar.
“(Hageman) now is abandoning that principle, sacrificing that oath, abandoning her duty to the people of Wyoming in order to pledge loyalty to Donald Trump,” Cheney said. “She seems to be stepping into the shoes of people like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, two attorneys who recently have been sanctioned by the courts for lying about the election. It’s really tragic to see that kind of opportunism, and it’s completely inconsistent with Wyoming values.”
Hageman was officially endorsed by Trump on Thursday, hours before she formally announced her campaign for Wyoming’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cheney drew ire from many Republicans when she voted to impeach former President Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. In May, she was ousted from her House leadership role after her continued condemnation of Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
At her Thursday campaign announcement, Hageman said her break with Cheney came when the congresswoman called her to say there had been no irregularities in the 2020 election, and that President Joe Biden had been fairly elected.
Cheney also commented on a Politico story published Friday, with the political news website reporting that a number of Trump political advisers had joined Hageman’s campaign, and that Hageman was receiving support from a super PAC chaired by Donald Trump Jr.
She said this was “arrogance” by such political operatives, thinking they could manipulate Wyoming voters.
“That kind of approach has never worked here, it never will work here,” she said. “So I think that if Harriet wants to cast her lot with those folks – I would note that they’re the same people who were involved in misleading millions of Americans about the election in 2020, there’s also a certain level of grift that goes on, but that’s the decision that she’s got to make.”
The congresswoman said she was focused on issues that matter to Wyoming and “fighting against the devastating Biden administration policies we’ve seen with respect to energy, our (agriculture) industry, across-the-board spending.”
Cheney said her campaign would continue to center on the conservative issues she ran on in her two previous campaigns.
“If any other candidate wants to bring in planeloads full of outsiders from New Jersey, that tells you something about what they think about the voters of Wyoming, and I’m confident that our voters aren’t going to fall for that,” she said.
Some of the challengers for Cheney’s seat have already suspended their campaigns after Trump’s backing of Hageman on Thursday, after they were reportedly urged by a Carbon County party official to drop out and endorse Hageman.
Cheney said she believes primaries are healthy, and she expressed concern about what she called “anti-conservative” behavior from some state party officials, such as Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne saying in January that western states were “paying attention” to a far-right effort in Texas to secede from the U.S.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many people in our state party, in the leadership of the state party, decide that they are going to put loyalty and allegiance to one man, who happens to be a president who provoked the attack on the Capitol and did not send help while the attack was underway. They’ve put loyalty to that person – and I include Harriet Hageman and a number of my other opponents in that category – above their duty to the Constitution.
“That is a very dangerous and indefensible position to have taken,” Cheney said.
In response to a question about the work of the Jan. 6 committee, on which she serves and was recently named vice-chair, the congresswoman said members of the committee were “working very diligently.” Cheney emphasized that one of the most important aspects of the U.S. was its commitment to a peaceful transfer of power, and that it was dangerous for Trump and any other elected official to work against that.
She said her congressional race would be an opportunity in Wyoming to debate what it means to be a constitutional republic, and what the duties of an elected official are.
Cheney also strongly urged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but said she opposed Biden’s order this week that all federal employees – some 100 million people – be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs, calling it “a really dangerous precedent.”
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon issued a statement Thursday afternoon opposing the mandate, saying he’d asked Attorney General Bridget Hill “to take all actions to oppose this administration’s unconstitutional overreach of executive power.”
In advance of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Cheney said she’d been working to establish a bipartisan commission to review the war in Afghanistan. She opposed the recent withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, as well as “the catastrophe” of how it was carried out.