The thirst for revenge against Liz Cheney underscores Trump’s toxic ‘insurrectionist’ influence: journalist

The thirst for revenge against Liz Cheney underscores Trump’s toxic ‘insurrectionist’ influence: journalist
Liz Cheney in 2013, Wikimedia Commons
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Arch-conservative Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming has gone from being the third highest-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives to being, as MAGA extremists see it, RINO Public Enemy #1. The MAGA crowd is determined to make Cheney pay for supporting former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment and joining House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection — and that thirst for revenge, according to liberal Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent, underscores the toxic influence that Trump continues to have on the GOP and the threat he still poses for U.S. democracy.

First, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise pushed to strip Cheney of her House committee assignments. Second, MAGA Republicans have tried to unseat Cheney via a GOP congressional primary in Wyoming in the 2022 midterms. And now, Cheney is a candidate for censure by the Republican National Committee along with another conservative Trump critic who serves on Pelosi’s committee: Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

“In recent days,” Sargent writes in his February 4 column, “we’ve learned that Donald Trump fully intended to get the 2020 election ‘overturned,’ that he suggested law enforcement agencies could seize voting machines, and that, if elected in 2024, he might pardon those who violently attacked our seat of government, resulting in five dead and scores wounded.”

Sargent continues, “So, how is the GOP’s central committee responding to these developments? With new efforts to punish the two Republicans who most prominently think this conduct should be disqualifying to lead their party and should call forth a serious national reckoning and institutional response in defense of U.S. democracy.”

The columnist notes that on February 4, “the Republican National Committee is expected to censure Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) for their roles on the House select committee examining the January 6 insurrection incited by Trump.”

“The censure resolution is explicit on why Cheney and Kinzinger are seen as such heretics,” Sargent explains. “It declares that they want to ‘destroy’ Trump rather than help Republicans win the majority and that their committee is engaged in the ‘persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.’ This is an extraordinary and revealing set of claims.”

Sargent adds, “If this resolution passes, the Republican Party’s official, openly declared position will be that its long-term prospects are inextricably bound up with securing total impunity for an effort to overthrow our political order at its very foundations. Not only that, the official party position will be that those who sought to achieve this — including through mob intimidation and violence — are now to be seen as martyrs and heroes. Trump will have succeeded in making this party orthodoxy.”

MAGA Republicans, Sargent warns, “want to decouple the violence” of January 6, 2021 “from the orchestrators of it.”

“The GOP’s official party position has become that the orchestrators of insurrection are above accountability entirely,” Sargent laments. “Cheney, meanwhile, is coming in for additional punishment. As the Post reports, the Wyoming GOP has privately arranged for the national party to financially back Cheney’s primary challenger. Cheney’s effort to purge the party of its insurrectionist elements has itself become disqualifying in today’s GOP.”

Kinzinger, who was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, is not seeking reelection in the 2022 midterms. And if Cheney loses the congressional primary in Wyoming, she will be gone from the House as well a year from now.

Sargent fears that if Republicans retake the House in November, the new GOP majority will have a strong “insurrectionist” bent — and minus conservatives like Cheney and Kinzinger who are willing to stand up to them.

“Right now, we’re debating what to do about certain scenarios in which a GOP-controlled House helps overturn the 2024 presidential election,” Sargent warns. “One possibility, which would be addressed by reform of the Electoral Count Act of 1887, is that a GOP-controlled House might count sham presidential electors sent by a corrupt GOP governor.”

Sargent continues, “As unlikely as that might seem, the fact that House Republicans are converging on an unabashed pro-insurrectionist stance can leave little doubt that a GOP-controlled House would be likely to execute this scheme if the conditions for it aligned. With the central GOP committee also converging on that stance, doesn’t it seem plausible that much of the party would bless such a scheme as well?”

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