‘We’re Electing Idiots’: Liz Cheney Says GOP Will Splinter If Trump Nominated

Former congresswoman Liz Cheney on Tuesday said nominating former President Trump in 2024 will divide the GOP and that stopping his reelection is more important than who wins the White House.

LW
Leo Wolfson

June 28, 20238 min read

Cheney at Aspen Idea Fest 6 28 23

Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney said during an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Tuesday that nominating former President Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president would splinter the party, “as it should.”

Cheney believes the Republican Party, the majority of which supports Trump, is not behaving in a conservative manner, Cheney said, saying she considers herself a conservative despite her open dislike for Trump and endorsing Democrats during the 2022 election cycle.

“I think the most conservative of any conservative principle is fidelity to the Constitution,” Cheney said. “When you have a party that has abandoned that, they’ve abandoned conservatism.”

During her 25-minute interview, Cheney also made it clear that stopping Trump from being reelected is more important than whether a Republican or Democrat wins the White House in 2024.

Cheney said she will make a decision about whether she will run for president and what her role will be in the 2024 election later this year.

During a public appearance in New York on Monday, Cheney said Americans have reached a new low point “where we're electing idiots."

Cheney was defeated by U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman by 37% of the vote in the 2022 Wyoming Republican primary.

Accountability

Cheney said there’s “simply no question” in her mind that Trump is unfit to be president again.

“Accountability really matters, accountability for those issues,” she said. “Accountability for issues we’ve now seen as far as that indictment over the documents, accountability for what he did on Jan. 6 really matters.”

Cheney said she believes the Department of Justice has done “a good job” as it pertains to its prosecution and convictions of people involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and also commended the investigation of Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, for tax evasion. 

Cheney doesn’t believe the DOJ should be involved in politics, another departure from Trump, who while president advocated for the DOJ to be an extension of his cabinet and under his purview. 

Hageman has remarked as recently as last week that the American criminal justice system is two-tiered and that organizations like the FBI have become weaponized to serve a political agenda. Hageman viewed the plea deal Hunter Biden came to with the DOJ as a “sweetheart plea agreement.”

Cheney said claims like Hageman’s are “unfounded” and dangerous.

Shementioned how judges across the country, some of which were appointed by Trump, almost universally agreed on the seriousness of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. She said it’s fundamentally important that everyone who attended or helped organize it be prosecuted and Trump never be elected again because of his actions that day.

Cheney said the Republican Party will have to choose between Trump or the U.S. Constitution and that there’s no middle ground because “those are mutually exclusive.”

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Trump In 2024

Cheney believes the Republican Party’s choice whether to select Trump as its 2024 nominee for president will not only determine its viability for the future, but is the No. 1 issue facing the nation. When asked if Trump has a shot at being reelected, Cheney somewhat dodged the question and said that “he must not be.”

“The single most important issue is that Donald Trump never be in the oval office again,” Cheney said.

The comment drew an enthusiastic roar from a sympathetic audience at the Ideas Festival. 

Trump is the front runner for the Republican nomination based on recent polling. He has laid out a vision since declaring his candidacy that the 2024 election will serve as a war for the heart and future of the country, describing it as a “battle” and he’s the point of the spear for “retribution.”

Endorsements And A Future Run

Cheney praised some of Trump’s Republican competitors who have directly criticized him like Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former congressman Will Hurd.

She spoke with slight hesitation when making this comment.

“I’m only hesitating because I don’t know if it helps Republicans for me to help them,” she said, drawing laughter from the audience.

Later in the interview, Cheney said an endorsement from her in the Republican presidential primary is “probably not like what people are begging for right this second.”

She said with a laugh that her public support for candidates “makes it powerful in another way, like I can decide who I might want to endorse and get out of the race.”

It was one of the few moments of self-deprecation from the congresswoman in recent years.

Still Noncommittal

When asked if she will run for president, Cheney declined to answer, the same response she has been giving to that question for nearly a year.

“What has to be done is much less about what I should do, whether I’m going to be a candidate or not and much more about stopping Donald Trump and whatever that takes, and also helping to elect other good candidates down ballot,” she said.

NBC’s Lester Holt pressed her further on this topic, asking if she would run as a third-party candidate. Cheney responded that she’s not going to do anything that helps Trump.

Cheney clarified that she didn’t mean this as an incendiary remark against third-party candidates making Trump stronger and believes his continued strength within the Republican Party should force a conversation about the formation of new political parties.

“I think our politics are undergoing a huge, more than even generational, shift,” she said. “Because the Republican Party has so abandoned any pretense right now of standing for truth and for honor and for character.”

Strategies

Cheney said Democrats should take Trump seriously as a real threat that stretches beyond political ideology.

According to Newsweek, results from multiple polls aggregated by political analysts at FiveThirtyEight suggest that Trump may either have a small lead over President Joe Biden or is behind him by roughly the same margins.

In other polls Biden has a clear lead. According to Morning Consult, Biden had a 4-point lead over Trump in their survey of 6,000 registered voters from June 9-11. YouGov recorded a 7-point lead for Biden from a survey conducted between May 25-30.

Cheney said there is a “cult of personality” and unwillingness to challenge Trump within the Republican Party. 

“There’s a sense of well, we’re just kind of bystanders here, and so the lies have gone unanswered,” she said. 

Cheney said those who carry this attitude are complicit in damaging the American Republic.

She believes substantive political debates should be happening and extensive efforts should be made to encourage college students to vote, a demographic typically dominated by the Democratic Party. 

Cheney said she plans on spending significant time on college campuses in the lead up to the 2024 election campaigning against Trump. She already holds a guest lecturer position at the University of Virginia that she started this spring.

“College students are a hugely important voting group to help stop Donald Trump,” she said.

Cheney directly endorsed three Democratic candidates for Congress during the 2022 election cycle, two of three winning their races.

“There are many of us who are serious about seeing the election go in the right direction and those candidates don’t always break down over party lines,” she said.

Cheney warned that election deniers like Trump are still very active and engaged, which means the rest of society that doesn’t share these viewpoints needs to be as well. She implored the audience to get involved in politics if they believe in the Constitution and American democracy. 

“You can’t sit back and think somebody else is going to fill that precinct position or somebody else is going to be on the school board,” she said. “The institutions aren’t going to defend themselves.”

New Friends

Cheney remarked that she now has more Democratic friends than she used to. One of these is Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin, who served with Cheney on the U.S. House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Attack. Cheney said Raskin tells her he looks forward to the days where they can disagree again.

“Because it will mean that we’ve righted the ship of our politics,” she said.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter