The face of the Anti-Trump wing of the GOP threw down the gauntlet Wednesday during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
Southern California is hallowed ground to the GOP. Richard Nixon is from here. The John Birch Society was spawned here. Ronald and Nancy Reagan are buried here. And it was here, in the birthplace of the modern Republican Party, that Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the vice chair of the Jan. 6th committee, delivered an ultimatum to conservatives on the future of the GOP.
“The reality we face today as Republicans, as we think about the choice in front of us, we have to choose,” she said. “Because Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution.”
The applause line met with a standing ovation.
A day earlier, under direct questioning from Cheney, White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s stunning testimony had revealed the depths of depravity to which Trump had sunk in the days and hours leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
“He summoned a mob to Washington,” Cheney, Wyoming’s sole member of the U.S. House told fellow conservatives during her 30-minute address. “He knew they were armed on Jan. 6. He knew they were angry. And he directed the violent mob to march on the capitol in order to delay or prevent completing the counting of electoral votes.
“He attempted to go there with them. And when the violence was underway he refused to take action to tell the rioters to leave. Instead he incited further violence by tweeting that the Vice President Mike Pence was a coward. He said ‘Mike deserves it’ and he didn’t want to do anything in response to the ‘hang Mike Pence’ chants.”
Another applause line: “We must not elect people who are more loyal to themselves or to power than they are to the Constitution.”
Cheney is one of two Republicans, along with Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who has broken ranks with the GOP to join with House Democrats to investigate last year’s attack on the Capitol. Unlike Kinzinger, however, who will not seek re-election, Cheney faces an uphill battle for re-election to Congress.
In 2020, Trump carried 70 percent of votes cast in the Cowboy State, his largest percentage win in any state in the 2020 election. Many of her home constituents regard Cheney’s national prominence in the Jan. 6th committee proceedings as a betrayal of the former president.
To keep her seat, Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, with deep family ties to Wyoming, is counting on moderate Republicans in the cities, and on independents and Democrats changing their party affiliation to vote for her, the Wall Street Journal reported.
At the Reagan Library, Cheney issued a statement of faith in conservative beliefs like limited government, low taxes, and the centrality of the nuclear family. She also took a swipe at President Biden’s economic policies, which she blamed for skyrocketing inflation. But the brunt of her remarks was reserved for Trump and his GOP entourage, which she defined as “Republican leaders and elected officials who have made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.”
“This moment demands more,” she said, “we cannot let ourselves be torn apart.”
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.