Speed Reads

The Long Goodbye

Liz Cheney secretly orchestrated Jan. 3 letter from 10 defense secretaries warning about Trump, friend says

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is almost certainly going to be ousted as No. 3 House Republican next week, even though she voted with former President Donald Trump more often (93 percent) than her likely replacement, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) — as Stefanik's conservative critics point out. While Stefanik has morphed from Trump skeptic to enthusiastic booster, Cheney has transformed from one of those "hold-their-noses-and-deal-with-him" establishment Republicans into, finally, Sen. John McCain's political "heir," Susan B. Glasser writes in The New Yorker.

After Trump tried to co-opt "the Big Lie" this week to refer to his false claims that he won the 2020 election, Cheney shot back that "the 2020 presidential election was not stolen," and "anyone who claims it was is spreading the big lie." Predictably, House Republicans turned against Cheney and sided with Trump, who "has learned the lesson of previous demagogues: the bigger and more flagrant the untruth, the better to prove the fealty of his party," Glasser writes.

"It's all got to do with fealty to Trump and the Big Lie and the fact that Liz is a living reproach to all these cowards," Eric Edelman, a friend of Cheney's, told The New Yorker. Glasser continues:

Cheney's rupture with the House Republican Conference has become all but final in recent days, but it has been months in the making. Edelman revealed that Cheney herself secretly orchestrated an unprecedented op-ed in The Washington Post by all 10 living former defense secretaries, including her father, warning against Trump's efforts to politicize the military. The congresswoman not only recruited her father but personally asked others, including Trump's first Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, to participate. ... The Post op-ed appeared on Jan. 3, just three days before the insurrection at the Capitol. [Susan Glasser, The New Yorker]

More quietly, Cheney and her husband circulated a 21-page memo among House Republicans on Jan. 3, debunking Trump's false election fraud claims and warning her colleagues about the "dangerous precedent" of voting to overturn the election, Glasser reports. Not even Cheney allies expect her to win this last stand, but "if Trump does manage to reinvent 'the Big Lie' in service of his own corrupt ends, Cheney will at least have forced members of her party into admitting, on the record, that they are making a choice between truth and Trump's untruth — and choosing the latter." Read the entire article at The New Yorker.