Rep. Liz Cheney came out swinging against her top primary challenger during a GOP debate Thursday night, accusing Harriet Hageman of being “completely beholden” to Donald Trump by backing the former president’s claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
“I’d be interested to know whether or not my opponent Ms. Hageman is willing to say here tonight that the election was not stolen,” said Cheney (R-Wyo.). “She knows it wasn’t stolen. I think that she can’t say that it wasn’t stolen because she’s completely beholden to Donald Trump.”
Hageman defended the former president and insisted there are “serious concerns” surrounding the results.
“We’re not a democracy — we’re a republic. Our republic is not in danger because of President Donald J. Trump,” said Hageman, claiming the biggest issue in the US was “the current administration and corruption of our institutions.”
“The press and certain people have obsessed over Jan. 6. Over 30,000 miles of campaign travel through Wyoming, the only time that the J6 situation ever comes up is when people talk about how unfair this entire committee is,” Hageman continued. “They’re focusing on something that happened 18 months ago. They’re not focusing on the issues that are important to the people in Wyoming.”
Still, Cheney — the vice chair of the House select committee investigating last year’s Capitol riot — accused Hageman of peddling claims that led one Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to be disbarred and another Trump lawyer, Sidney Powell, to have her law license suspended. These claims, Cheney said, “are simply not true.”
“It is not true that there was sufficient fraud to change the results of the 2020 election,” Cheney said.
“Now if Ms. Hagerman is standing up here claiming that the election was stolen or that there was fraud that was sufficient to overturn the election, she oughta say it,” she added. “Otherwise she needs to stop making claims that are not true and she has to tell the people of Wyoming the truth.”
With Trump in Hageman’s corner, Cheney faces a steep climb to keep her seat this fall.
In late May, a survey found that 56% of Wyoming Republicans would vote for Hageman while only 26% said they would back Cheney.
For months, the former president has blasted Cheney as a “RINO” — Republican in name only — largely stemming from her repeated criticism of his involvement in the riot and his insistence that the 2020 election was rigged.
In February 2021, the state party voted to censure Cheney over her vote to impeach Trump on an article of incitement of insurrection. Only three months later, House Republicans ousted Cheney from her role as conference chair — the No. 3 position behind minority leader and minority whip — in favor of Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).
That November, Wyoming’s Republican Party also voted to no longer recognize Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, as a member.
In her closing statement Thursday, Cheney defended her time in Congress as a self-proclaimed conservative.
“The Republican Party has a long and storied history of embracing the conservative values that I believe in very strongly: limited government, low taxes, and a strong national defense,” Cheney said. “But we are not embracing a cult of personality and I won’t be part of that and I will always stand for my oath and stand for the truth.”
Cheney and Hageman will face off in Wyoming’s primary on Aug. 16, along with state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, retired US Army Col. Denton Knapp and businesswoman Robyn Belinskey.