Why won't Liz Cheney move on?

That was the question asked in the run-up to the House GOP ousting her from leadership six months ago. Why won’t she move on? Why persist in criticizing the unquestioned leader of the party over his election disinformation, knowing how awkward that made things for Kevin McCarthy and her colleagues? The election was over, Biden was president, Trump was and will always be Trump. Why not just let it go?

And the answer then was the same as it is now: Because Trump won’t let it go.

So long as he continues to lie about the election, people who can’t be easily dismissed as partisan liberals need to call him on it. The truth is the truth. And a truth told to challenge a pernicious lie is a virtuous thing even when it’s not politically expedient. Especially then, frankly.

She was in New Hampshire today to deliver the keynote address at the Nackey Loeb School of Communication’s First Amendment Award Celebration. The three minutes from her speech below are probably the most pointed criticism of Trump and the GOP that I’ve heard from her yet. (You can’t hold back at a “First Amendment Celebration,” I suppose.) She claims at one point that Trump reportedly told the audience at a private NRCC event last night that the real insurrection was on November 3 while January 6 was a mere protest, as if he’d only dare say something so incendiary away from the cameras.

But he said the same thing today in a statement. Trump has no shame about this:

He issued a second statement today, a year and six days removed from Election Day 2020, wondering why the “Fraudulent Election” is allowed to “stand”:

Why won’t Liz Cheney move on?

Adam Kinzinger, her Republican colleague on the January 6 committee, was asked recently what it was like being in the Capitol on January 6 as the mob made its way through the building. Kinzinger wasn’t as strident a critic of Trump at the time as he is now but he was already marked as an anti-Trumper, a dangerous thing to be that day. What would have happened if the mob had found him?

Were you ever genuinely scared?
Yeah. I’d say maybe it’s around 2:30 p.m., and there was a moment where I was like, “Man, there’s a real sense of evil.” I can’t explain it any further than that. And I’m not one of these guys that feels evil a lot. But I just felt a real darkness, like a thick, bad feeling. And there was about a 15- to 30-minute time frame, where, at one point, you realize they’ve breached the Capitol. I know if they can breach those outer lines, they can get anywhere, including my office. And I had been targeted on Twitter that day and prior, like, “Hangman’s noose. We’re coming for you.” And people know where my office is. So I barricaded myself in here, thinking, “If this is as bad as it seems, they may end up at my office, breaking this crap down, and I may have to do what I can.”

So, you contemplated having to discharge your firearm on American citizens?
Yeah, I thought about it. If you’re already at a point where you’re beating down police officers, and you’re willing to sack the U.S. Capitol, which hadn’t been done in hundreds of years, if you come face-to-face with Chief RINO in his office, who doesn’t believe that Donald Trump won reelection, yeah, they’re going to try to fight and kill me, and I’m not going to let that happen.

Jonathan Karl has a new book out about January 6 and its aftermath and told a story last night on Stephen Colbert’s show that I’ve never heard before. Apparently a White House photographer was with Mike Pence while he was hiding from the mob in a loading dock and captured the moment when the vice president, whose life was in grave danger, read the tweet sent by Trump during the riot blaming him for not blocking the certification of Biden’s victory:

I’d like to see that photograph. I have a feeling we will see it eventually, thanks to Cheney’s committee.

Here she is. By the way, is there any significance to her delivering this speech in New Hampshire? Cheney would do no better than five to 10 percent of the vote in a Republican presidential primary against Trump but the point of running wouldn’t be to win, it would be to gain a spotlight to continue to make these criticisms of him ahead of the general election. In 2024 the GOP establishment will be even less receptive to being reminded of Trump’s coup attempt than it is now. The only way to force them to confront it is for someone to remind them of it in a visible way. The *really* interesting scenario would be if Trump decides not to run after all and we get the familiar 15-candidate field of ambitious hopefuls. Would Cheney run in that case as well, to try to make the top-tier candidates like DeSantis and Abbott and Tim Scott reckon with Trump’s effort to overturn the election? Or, with Trump having stood down, would she stand down too? We’ll see.

Jazz Shaw May 24, 2022 7:58 AM ET