Liz Cheney’s Unlikely Journey From G.O.P. Royalty to Republican Outcast

CASPER, Wyo. — Representative Liz Cheney was holed up in a safe undisclosed location of the Dick Cheney Federal Building, recounting how she received an alarmed cellphone name from her father on Jan. 6.

Ms. Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, recalled that she had been making ready to communicate on the House flooring in help of certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election as president. Mr. Cheney, the previous vice chairman and his daughter’s closest political adviser, consulted along with her on most days, however this time was calling as a anxious dad or mum.

He had seen President Donald J. Trump on tv at a rally that morning vow to do away with “the Liz Cheneys of the world.” Her flooring speech may inflame tensions, he instructed her, and he feared for her security. Was she certain she wished to go forward?

“Absolutely,” she instructed her father. “Nothing could be more important.”

Minutes later, Mr. Trump’s supporters breached the entrance, House members evacuated and the political way forward for Ms. Cheney, who by no means delivered her speech, was all of a sudden scrambled. Her promising rise within the House, which associates say the previous vice chairman had been enthusiastically invested in and hoped would possibly culminate within the speaker’s workplace, had been changed with a really completely different mission.

“This is about being able to tell your kids that you stood up and did the right thing,” she stated.

Ms. Cheney entered Congress in 2017, and her lineage all the time ensured her a conspicuous profile, though not in the way in which it has since blown up. Her marketing campaign to defeat the “ongoing threat” and “fundamental toxicity of a president who lost” has landed one of the vital conservative House members in essentially the most un-Cheney-like place of resistance leader and Republican outcast. Ms. Cheney has vowed to be a counterforce, regardless of how lonely that pursuit may be or the place it’d lead, together with a attainable main problem to Mr. Trump if he runs for president in 2024, a prospect she has not dominated out.

Beyond the daunting politics, Ms. Cheney’s predicament can be a father-daughter story, rife with dynastic echoes and ironies. An unapologetic Prince of Darkness determine all through his profession, Mr. Cheney was all the time attuned to doomsday situations and existential threats he noticed posed by America’s enemies, whether or not from Russia throughout the Cold War, Saddam Hussein after the Sept. 11 assaults, or the final menace of tyrants and terrorists.

Ms. Cheney has come to view the present circumstances with Mr. Trump in the identical apocalyptic phrases. The distinction is that right now’s menace resides contained in the celebration by which her household has been royalty for practically half a century.

“He is just deeply troubled for the country about what we watched President Trump do,” Ms. Cheney stated of her father. “He’s a student of history. He’s a student of the presidency. He knows the gravity of those jobs, and as he’s watched these events unfold, certainly he’s been appalled.”

On the day final month that Ms. Cheney’s House colleagues ousted her as the third-ranking Republican over her condemnations of Mr. Trump, she invited an previous household pal, the photographer David Hume Kennerly, to file her actions for posterity. After work, they repaired to her mother and father’ house in McLean, Va., to commiserate over wine and a steak dinner.

“There was maybe a little bit of post-mortem, but it didn’t feel like a wake,” stated Mr. Kennerly, the official photographer for President Gerald R. Ford whereas Mr. Cheney was White House chief of workers. “Mostly, I got a real sense at that dinner of two parents who were extremely proud of their kid and wanted to be there for her at the end of a bad day.”

Mr. Cheney declined to be interviewed for this text, however supplied a press release: “As a father, I am enormously proud of my daughter. As an American, I am deeply grateful to her for defending our Constitution and the rule of law.”

The Cheneys are a personal and insular brood, although not with out tensions which have gone public. Ms. Cheney’s opposition to same-sex marriage throughout a short Senate marketing campaign in 2013 enraged her sister, Mary Cheney, and Mary’s longtime companion, Heather Poe. It was conspicuous, then, when Mary conveyed full help for her sister after Jan. 6.

“As many people know, Liz and I have definitely had our differences over the years,” she wrote in a Facebook publish on Jan. 7. “But I am very proud of how she handled herself during the fight over the Electoral College…Good job Big Sister.’’

In an interview in Casper, Ms. Cheney, 54, spoke in urgent, clipped cadences in an unmarked conference room of the Dick Cheney Federal Building, one of many places that carry her family name in the nation’s least populous and most Trump-loving state. Her disposition conveyed both determination and worry, and also a sense of someone who had endured an embattled stretch.

Ms. Cheney had spent much of a recent congressional recess in Wyoming and yet was rarely seen in public. The appearances she did make — a visit to the Chamber of Commerce in Casper, a hospital opening (with her father) in Star Valley — were barely publicized beforehand, in large part for security concerns. She has received a stream of death threats, common menaces among high-profile critics of Mr. Trump, and is now surrounded by a newly deployed detail of plainclothes, ear-pieced agents.

Her campaign spent $58,000 on security from January to March, including three former Secret Service officers, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Ms. Cheney was recently assigned protection from the Capitol Police, an unusual measure for a House member not in a leadership position. The fortress aura around Ms. Cheney is reminiscent of the “secure undisclosed location” of her father within the days after the Sept. 11 assaults.

Ms. Cheney’s temperament bears the imprint of each mother and father, particularly her mom, Lynne Cheney, a conservative scholar and commentator who is way extra extroverted than her husband. But Mr. Cheney has lengthy been his eldest daughter’s closest skilled alter ego, particularly after he left workplace in 2009, and Ms. Cheney devoted marathon classes to collaborating on his memoir, “In My Times.” Their work coincided with a few of Mr. Cheney’s gravest coronary heart circumstances, together with a period in 2010 when he was near death.

His well being stabilized after docs put in a blood-pumping machine that saved him alive and allowed him to journey. This included journeys between Virginia and Wyoming by which Mr. Cheney would drive whereas dictating tales to Ms. Cheney within the passenger seat, who would sort his phrases right into a laptop computer. He acquired his coronary heart transplant in 2012.

Father and daughter promoted the memoir in joint appearances, with Ms. Cheney interviewing her father in venues across the nation. “She was basically there with her dad to ease his re-entry back to health on the public stage,” stated former Senator Alan Okay. Simpson, a Wyoming Republican and a longtime household pal.

By 2016, Ms. Cheney had been elected to Congress and shortly rose to develop into the third-ranking Republican, a publish her father additionally held. As highly effective as Mr. Cheney was as vice chairman, he had all the time thought-about himself a product of the House, the place he had served as Wyoming’s at-large congressman from 1979 to 1989.

Neither father nor daughter is a pure politician in any conventional sense. Mr. Cheney was a plotter and bureaucratic brawler, bold however in a quiet, secretive and, to many eyes, devious manner. Ms. Cheney was largely centered on strategic planning and hawkish policymaking.

After graduating from Colorado College (“The Evolution of Presidential War Powers” was her senior thesis), Ms. Cheney labored on the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development whereas her father was protection secretary. She attended the University of Chicago Law School and practiced on the agency White & Case earlier than returning to the State Department whereas her father was vice chairman. She was not sheepish or dispassionate like her father — she was a cheerleader at McLean High School — however held off working for workplace till properly into her 40s.

Once within the House, Ms. Cheney was seen as a attainable speaker — a hybrid of multinational background, hard-line conservatism and partisan instincts. While she had reservations about Mr. Trump, she was selective along with her critiques and voted with him 93 % of time and in opposition to his first impeachment.

As for Mr. Cheney, his misery over the Trump administration was initially centered on international coverage, although he finally got here to view the 45th president’s efficiency general as abysmal.

“I had a couple of conversations with the vice president last summer where he was really deeply troubled,” stated Eric S. Edelman, a former American ambassador to Turkey, a Pentagon official within the George W. Bush administration and household pal.

As a transplant recipient whose compromised immune system positioned him at extreme threat of Covid-19, Mr. Cheney discovered that his contempt for the Trump White House solely grew throughout the pandemic. He had additionally recognized and admired Dr. Anthony S. Fauci for a few years.

At the identical time, Ms. Cheney publicly supported Dr. Fauci and appeared to be trolling the White House final June when she tweeted “Dick Cheney says WEAR A MASK” over {a photograph} of her father — wanting each bit the stoic Westerner — sporting a face masking and cowboy hat (hashtag “#realmenwearmasks”).

She has acquired notable help in her in any other case lonely efforts from quite a few top-level figures of the Republican institution, together with a lot of her father’s previous White House colleagues. Former President George W. Bush — by a spokesman — made a degree of thanking Mr. Cheney “for his daughter’s service” in a name to his former vice chairman on his 80th birthday in January.

Ms. Cheney did wind up voting for Mr. Trump in November, however got here to remorse it instantly. In her view, Mr. Trump’s conduct after the election went irreversibly past the pale. “For Liz, it was like, I just can’t do this anymore,” stated former Representative Barbara Comstock, Republican of Virginia.

Ms. Cheney returned final week to Washington, the place she had minimal dealings along with her former management cohorts and was much less inhibited in sharing her dim view of sure Republican colleagues. On Tuesday, she slammed Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona for repeating “disgusting and despicable lies” concerning the actions of the Capitol Police on Jan. 6.

“We’ve got people we’ve entrusted with the perpetuation of the Republic who don’t know what the rule of law is,” she stated. “We probably need to do Constitution boot camps for newly sworn-in members of Congress. Clearly.”

She stated her major pursuit now concerned instructing fundamental civics to voters who had been misinformed by Mr. Trump and different Republicans who ought to know higher. “I’m not naïve about the education that has to go on here,” Ms. Cheney stated. “This is dangerous. It’s not complicated. I think Trump has a plan.”

Ms. Cheney’s personal plan has been the item of appreciable hypothesis. Although she was re-elected in 2020 by 44 share factors, she faces a probably treacherous path in 2022. Several Wyoming Republicans have already introduced plans to mount main challenges in opposition to Ms. Cheney, and her race is definite to be among the many most carefully adopted within the nation subsequent 12 months. It can even present a visual platform for her marketing campaign to guarantee Mr. Trump “never again gets near the Oval Office” — an enterprise that would plausibly embrace a long-shot main bid in opposition to him in 2024.

Friends say that at a sure level, occasions — specifically Jan. 6 — got here to transcend any parochial political considerations for Ms. Cheney. “Maybe I’m being Pollyanna a little bit here, but I do think Liz is playing the long game,” stated Matt Micheli, a Cheyenne lawyer and former chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party. Ms. Cheney has confirmed as a lot.

“This is something that determines the nature of this Republic going forward,” she stated. “So I really don’t know how long that takes.”

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