In Praise Of Liz Cheney

[ Posted Wednesday, July 28th, 2021 – 15:39 UTC ]

It is a rare day when I devote a whole column to praising any Republican politician, but Representative Liz Cheney certainly deserves some thanks and appreciation today. She has accepted the role of de facto Republican lead on the House January 6th Select Committee, much to the consternation of most of the other members of her caucus (including everyone in GOP leadership). Cheney and Adam Kinzinger were the only two Republicans willing to honor their oath of office to the United States Constitution by accepting a seat on the committee and bringing a serious demeanor to the investigation into what went so horribly wrong.

For her valiant efforts, she is being excoriated by members of her own party. During the testimony yesterday, one of the police officers made a very salient point: "Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are being lauded as courageous heroes. And while I agree with that notion, why? Because they told the truth? Why is telling the truth hard?"

This is true. In normal times, a member of Congress of either political party simply doing their job -- doing their constitutional duty -- would not be cause for praise or words like "hero." It would just be seen as the bare minimum and just to be expected. Sadly, however, these are anything but normal times.

So instead of writing any commentary today, I am turning over the entire rest of this column to Cheney. Below is both her opening statement and the entirety of her period of questioning the witnesses. Both contain very powerful language, directed not only at Donald Trump but also at all those Republicans who aided and abetted him in the delusion of his Big Lie -- that he somehow won an election he had clearly lost.

Cheney lays out what is at stake here in rather profound words. Here is the core of her argument:

Will we adhere to the rule of law? Will we respect the rulings of our courts? Will we preserve the peaceful transition of power? Or will we be so blinded by partisanship that we throw away the miracle of America? Do we hate our political adversaries more than we love our country and revere our Constitution?

For preserving and defending the United States Constitution against all enemies (foreign and domestic), and for putting country above party in such admirable fashion, I have to give Liz Cheney the praise she is due.

[Note: These transcripts come from Cheney's official House press release webpages, which are what the links lead back to.]


Opening Remarks

Thank you very much, Chairman Thompson. Thank you to all of my colleagues on this committee, and thank you to each of the witnesses appearing before us today. It is because of you -- you held the line, you defended all of us, you defended the Capitol, and you defended the Constitution and our Republic, and every American owes you our undying gratitude. Every American, I hope, will be able to hear your testimony today and will watch the videos. The videos show the unbelievable violence and the inexcusable and intolerable cruelty that you all faced, and people need to know the truth.

I want to begin by reflecting briefly on the investigation that we are launching today. Every one of us here on the dais voted for and would have preferred that these matters be investigated by an independent non-partisan commission, composed of five prominent Americans selected by each party, and modeled on the 9/11 Commission. Although such a commission was opposed by my own leadership in the House, it overwhelmingly passed with the support of 35 Republican members, it was defeated by Republicans in the Senate. And that leaves us where we are today.

We cannot leave the violence of January 6th -- and its causes -- uninvestigated. The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for January 6th. We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House -- every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward. If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our Constitutional Republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system. We will face the threat of more violence in the months to come, and another January 6th every four years.

I have been a conservative Republican since 1984 when I first voted for Ronald Reagan. I have disagreed sharply on policy and politics with almost every Democratic member of this committee. But, in the end, we are one nation under God. The Framers of our Constitution recognized the danger of the vicious factionalism of partisan politics -- and they knew that our daily arguments could become so fierce that we might lose track of our most important obligation -- to defend the rule of law and the freedom of all Americans. That is why our Framers compelled each of us to swear a solemn oath to preserve and protect the Constitution. When a threat to our constitutional order arises, as it has here, we are obligated to rise above politics. This investigation must be non-partisan.

While we begin today by taking the public testimony of these four heroic men, we must also realize that the task of this committee will require persistence. We must issue and enforce subpoenas promptly. We must get to objective truth. We must overcome the many efforts we are already seeing to cover up and obscure the facts.

On January 6th and in the days thereafter, almost all members of my party recognized the events of that day for what they actually were. One Republican, for example, said: "What is happening at the U.S. Capitol right now is unacceptable and un-American. Those participating in lawlessness and violence must be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." No Member of Congress should now attempt to defend the indefensible, obstruct this investigation, or whitewash what happened that day. We must act with honor and duty, and in the interest of our nation.

America is great because we preserve our democratic institutions at all costs. Until January 6th, we were proof positive for the world that a nation conceived in liberty could long endure. But now, January 6th threatens our most sacred legacy. The question for every one of us who serves in Congress, for every elected official across this great nation, indeed, for every American is this: Will we adhere to the rule of law? Will we respect the rulings of our courts? Will we preserve the peaceful transition of power? Or will we be so blinded by partisanship that we throw away the miracle of America? Do we hate our political adversaries more than we love our country and revere our Constitution? I pray that that is not the case. I pray that we all remember, our children are watching, as we carry out this solemn and sacred duty entrusted to us. Our children will know who stood for truth, and they will inherit the nation we hand to them -- a Republic, if we can keep it.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.


Cheney's Questions

[REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY:] Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And again, thank you to all of our witnesses for your heroism and your bravery that day and also for being here today and telling your story. I certainly join the Chairman and every member of this committee in our commitment to making sure we get to the truth and that those who did this are accountable.

Officer Gonell, I'd like to ask you -- you describe in your testimony that it was -- you said it was like a medieval battlefield and that what you were subjected to that day was something like a medieval battlefield. You said, "We fought hand-to-hand and inch-by-inch to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob, intent on subverting our democratic process." And is it the case that as you were fighting there, you were not aware that the Capitol had been breached elsewhere? I believe you said that you really thought that you were the last line of defense, is that right?


[CHENEY:] And so, Officer Gonell, when you think about that and share with us the vivid memory of the cruelty and the violence of the assault that day, and then you hear former President Trump say: "It was a loving crowd. There was a lot of love in the crowd." How does that make you feel?

[GONELL:] It's upsetting. It is a pathetic excuse for his behavior, for something that he himself helped to create this monstrosity. I'm still recovering from those 'hugs and kisses' that day -- that he claimed that so many rioters, terrorists, were assaulting us that day. If that was 'hugs and kisses,' then we should all go to his house and do the same thing to him. To me, it's insulting, it's demoralizing because everything that we did was to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt. And what he was doing, instead of sending the military, instead of sending the support or telling his people, his supporters, to stop this nonsense, he egged them [on] to continue fighting. I was in the lower west terrace fighting alongside these officers, and all of them, all of them, were telling us, "Trump sent us." Nobody else -- there was nobody else. It was not Antifa. It was not Black Lives Matter. It was not the F.B.I. It was his supporters that he sent them over to the Capitol that day, and he could have done a lot of things. One of them was to tell them to stop. He talked about sacrificing. Sacrifices were not -- the only thing that he has sacrificed is the institutions of the country. In the country itself, only for his ego, because he wants to continue-- He wants the job, but he doesn't want to do the job, and that's a shame on him and himself.

[CHENEY:] Thank you. Officer Fanone, you talked in your testimony about the fact that the line that day was the seat of American democracy, was the seat of our government. Can you talk about -- as you think now about what was under threat -- first of all, you have a sense at the time as you were going through the battle before the horrific violence happened to you, of the nature of the gravity of the threat that we were facing, that the line was, in fact, the seat of American democracy?

[METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE:] Well, my response to that day really was based off of my obligation as a police officer to not only protect the lives of the Members of Congress and their staff, but also to my fellow officers. The politics of that day really didn't play into my response at all.

[CHENEY:] Thank you. Officer Hodges, in your testimony you talk about when you were at the Ellipse and you mentioned the significant number of men dressed in tactical gear attending the gathering -- wearing ballistic vests, helmet, goggles. When you saw that, was that something that you had anticipated at all? And could you just tell us more about that crowd there at the Ellipse, the extent to which you saw people who clearly were in military or paramilitary garb?

[METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT OFFICER DANIEL HODGES:] It was absolutely a source of concern. Like I said, they had outer carrier vests designed to carry ballistic shielding, helmets, goggles, face masks, backpacks filled with unknown objects. And I couldn't get a count and we couldn't stop and search everyone, but so I don't know how many there were. But I know that it was obviously a concern of mine.

[CHENEY:] Thank you very much. And then finally, Officer Dunn, you mentioned the text message that you received, and you expressed some surprise -- you mentioned that you had not seen any intelligence that would have led you to believe that we should expect that kind of violence. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

[UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE PRIVATE FIRST CLASS HARRY DUNN:] Yes, ma'am. We were expecting civil disobedience, as we do at the Capitol. At least that was what was relayed to us -- a couple arrests, name calling, you know, unfriendly people, but nowhere near the level of violence or even close to it, like we experienced. When I received the text message, it made the hairs on my neck rise, but since our chain of command had not told us to prepare for any of these levels of violence, I was like, "Okay, whatever." I've been here, I started year fourteen in November and have dealt with hundreds of protests where people get arrested and for peaceful First Amendment protests, everybody has the right to protest. Okay, do what you do and, you know, we'll arrest you if you break the law and we'll go home later that night. It was a lot different than that, but I was not alerted to the level of violence like -- the text messages I got foreshadowed that looking back, but we were not prepared for what we faced that day.

[CHENEY:] Thank you. And Mr. Chairman, without objection, I would like to ask unanimous consent if we could enter that complete text message into the record.

[CHAIRMAN BENNIE THOMPSON:] Without objection, so ordered.

[CHENEY:] Thank you. And again, I would just like to express my deep gratitude for what you all did to save us, and it won't be forgotten, and we will get to the bottom of this. Thank you very much. And with that, I yield back.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


16 Comments on “In Praise Of Liz Cheney”

  1. [1] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Yep. Caint stand Cheney in general, but she has some combination of fidelity to her Oath of Office and a calculation that Trumpism won't last. Although Trumpism ain't dead just yet, harumph.

    Nikki Haley might take exception but I think Liz Cheney will be the first female Repug candidate for President.

  2. [2] 
    andygaus wrote:

    People simply aren't all good or all bad, and fairness means recognizing the good part of people who aren't totally good.

  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Wow. Yeah, it feels like such a throwback to have a congressional committee that's so uniformly serious.

  4. [4] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Here's an interesting POLITICO article What’s Behind the Conservative Rift on the Supreme Court

    We really have a 3-3-3 court, with 3 conservative institutionalists, 3 conservative “four corners” justices and 3 liberals.

    ...But don’t look for clear-cut wins for one or another political side: With this new court, it’s likely both sides will be dissatisfied with the outcomes.

  5. [5] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Sho' yo right, Amigo! And so we have with this column.

  6. [6] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    I have the utmost high regard for Liz Cheney. The only thing wrong with Liz is her father, whom I blame along with Bush for the disaster of the Iraq war, but I suppose she can't be blamed for Dick.

  7. [7] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    i find it strange to be on the other side of this issue from you; as disastrous as the iraq war was, i've come to have a bit more respect for george II. as more of the 'inside baseball' details come out about how he made his decisions as president, it seems to me his main mistake was being too trusting of his advisors, including but not limited to his VP. but even dick was principled, such as he is.

    by my estimation dubya is still in the bottom third of presidents, but not nearly as horrible as we thought at the time.


  8. [8] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Not too long after Dubya left office I read a quote from one of his advisors that said they decided to invade Iraq, "because we wanted to kick some ass."

    Thousands of dead and wonderful Americans. Untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties, and the rise of ISIS in the vacume left when we killed Saddam. All because Dubya and the Republicans warmongers "wanted to kick some ass."

    Trump has nonetheless made me long for that kind of, er, considered statesmanship.

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Praising Liz Cheney? Kinda sorta missing Dubya? All in the same day -- madness!


  10. [10] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    pretzel crust pie is wonderful

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  12. [12] 
    John M wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "Are you saying that the Democrats aren't capable of winning a filibuster-proof number of senate seats ... running against THIS Republican party!!!???"

    YES EXACTLY. Remember, more than half the states still voted for Trump even knowing exactly who and what he was.

    Look at any recent map of which states voted for the Democrat in the presidential election. Those are the same states that are going to have Democratic Senators. (Which party that state voted for in the electoral college is now the single biggest and best predictor of what party both that state's senators are now going to be tracks almost precisely.) Red states have Republican senators. Blue states have Democratic senators. Purple states can have a mix of either. The exceptions prove the rule.

    At most there will be between 25 and 29 states. You need 60 Senators, or 30 states, for a filibuster proof majority. Neither party is ever going to get that anytime in the near future.

    Just like all this talk of persuading the undecided or the other side or the American voter is pretty much all bunk too. It doesn't matter. What determines elections now is turnout, turnout, turnout, of your own base or already committed supporters. Democrats simply start from a larger pool than Republicans do.

    When the Republican base is in a frenzy, they win, but when Democrats turn out in high numbers, Democrats win. Persuading people to cross party lines be damned. It's all about turnout stupid. (To modify an old phrase about the economy.) It's that simple.

  13. [13] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [10] Don Harris wrote:

    It [won't be]. Haley or Cheney.

    Hillary Clinton was the first female Republikiller candidate for president but she ran as a Deathocrat.

    You're absolutely right. I had a helluva tough time voting for Hillary in '16 -- I almost voted for Jill Stein but, as I couldn't imagine America inflicting Trump on itself, I wanted to be able to say, "I voted for the first female 'Murican President.

    Again, I'm in complete agreement with you about the Dims and Repugs being owned by big money. They encourage us commoners fight over social issues while they hoard the money.

    "You can boss the n*goers
    We'll boss the money."

    "You can own the Libs
    We'll own the money."

    If only there was a CREDIBLE solution to this problem!

  14. [14] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [Damned auto correct]

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So, John, why can't Dems get out the vote?

  16. [16] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    there are a number of reasons why democratic coalitions have more trouble with turnout than republicans. for one, it's a significantly broader coalition, so it's less likely that a democratic candidate will appeal to a voter on the fringes. for another, liberal personalities tend not to be as motivated by fear, which means they're less dependable and more subject to outside conditions (weather, convenience, lack of inspiration, etc.). for a third thing, democrats are more likely to be in urban centers, which for whatever reasons tend not to be as smoothly run, and are more subject to changes and confusion in polling location, longer lines, broken machines, and other conditions that make turnout less likely. fourth, and the last thing i've thought of off the cuff, is that people of color tend to vote reliably democratic, and are incarcerated at a significantly higher rate, which in many states means the limitation or loss of voting rights.

    this is anything but an exhaustive list, but it should at least be a start. unless of course the question was intended to be rhetorical.


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