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Cheney calls out chief rival as ‘beholden to Donald Trump’

Rep. Liz Cheney shamed her Republican rivals for peddling former President Donald Trump‘s false 2020 election fraud claims, including the Wyoming House candidate Trump chose to take her place, Harriet Hageman. 

‘I think that she can’t say that it wasn’t stolen because she’s completely beholden to Donald Trump,’ Cheney said of Hageman during Thursday night’s Wyoming House debate. 

Cheney shared the stage with four Republicans trying to unseat her, the most prominent being Hageman, as well as small business owner Robyn Belinskey, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard and U.S. Army veteran Denton Knapp. 

Harriet Hageman

Rep. Liz Cheney (left) slammed her primary rival Harriet Hageman (right) during the Wyoming House debate Thursday night. ‘I think that she can’t say that it wasn’t stolen because she’s completely beholden to Donald Trump,’ Cheney said of Hageman’s embrace of the ‘big lie’ 

On Thursday night, Rep. Liz Cheney (middle podium) debated her four primary rivals (from left): Harriet Hageman, business owner Robyn Belinskey, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard and U.S. Army veteran Denton Knapp

On Thursday night, Rep. Liz Cheney (middle podium) debated her four primary rivals (from left): Harriet Hageman, business owner Robyn Belinskey, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard and U.S. Army veteran Denton Knapp 

Hageman opened the debate by railing against ‘two different systems of justice in this country,’ suggesting Hunter Biden, Hillary Clinton and even President Joe Biden are treated differently than ‘conservatives, or Republicans, who are being punished for expressing a First Amendment right’ – seemingly a reference to those involved in the January 6 Capitol attack. 

Cheney – the Republican co-chair of the January 6 House select committee – hit Hageman back when it was her turn to speak. 

Cheney asserted that the assault on the Capitol by Trump’s supporters was ‘clearly an attempt to delay to count the electoral votes.’ 

‘Anybody who was there understands the violence that was involved,’ Cheney said. ‘I’m frankly stunned that one of my opponents on this stage, who is a member of the Wyoming bar, who has sworn an oath – like many of us on this stage have – to the Constitution, would be in a position where she is suggesting that somehow what happened on January 6 was justified.’ 

Hageman is an attorney. 

‘We have to defend our constitutional republic,’ Cheney went on. ‘As I made clear last night, we have to put our oath to the Constitution above party.’ 

‘We are now embracing a cult of personality and I won’t be part of that,’ she also said. ‘I will always stand for my oath and stand for the truth.’

January 6 and the false claims of election fraud were major themes in the debate in the run-up to the August primary. 

The other candidates were in line with Trump.  

Belinskey, for instance, called the January 6 attack a ‘distraction.’ 

‘We the people – First Amendment right was flushed out the door,’ she said of the attack. 

Bouchard created a viral moment when he argued election interference was real.

‘What about Facebook? Using the system to steer people. We know for a fact that all the major internets do that,’ he said.

He also called the January 6 committee a ‘kangaroo court’ and a ‘circus.’  

But Cheney focused her energy on Hageman, who was polling way ahead of her according to surveys conducted in mid-June.  

Cheney said there was a ‘real tragedy’ occurring.

‘And the tragedy is that there are politicians in this country – beginning with Donald Trump – who have lied to the American people,’ she said. ‘People have been betrayed. He consistently has said that the election was stolen, when it wasn’t. When it’s absolutely clear the courts decided, the courts determined the outcome.’ 

Cheney pointed out that the January 6 hearings have almost exclusively showcased the testimony of Republican witnesses. 

The Wyoming House member also name-dropped Bill Stepien, who is consulting for Hageman’s campaign, pointing out that Stepien has previously said ‘the election was not stolen.’ 

She then challenged Hageman to say the same thing.  

‘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. She knows it wasn’t stolen,’ Cheney said. 

But Hageman sowed doubt onstage. 

‘We have serious questions about the 2020 election,’ the candidate said. 

She then brought up how Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated $419 million to two nonprofit organizations that gave grants out to more than 2,500 election departments, to help them expand mail-in voting, among other things, amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

‘I think this is an example of how the press and certain people have obsessed over January 6,’ Hageman also complained when the first two debate questions were dedicated to the topic. 

She said that most Wyoming voters tell her ‘how unfair this entire committee is.’  

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