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Cheney challenger Harriet Hageman: ‘She betrayed me’ and Wyoming

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EXCLUSIVE: Harriet Hageman, the Trump-endorsed primary challenger to Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, used to support the incumbent. But now, she argues, Cheney’s continued criticism of former President Donald Trump has not only made her an outcast in the Republican Party but incapable of providing adequate representation for Wyoming and defense against liberal Democrats.

“She's really gone to war with him,” Hageman told the Washington Examiner in an interview this week. “She betrayed Wyoming. She betrayed me.”

Hageman is a senior litigation counsel for the nonprofit conservative-libertarian law firm New Civil Liberties Alliance, a former Republican National Committeewoman, and a former Wyoming gubernatorial candidate. She’s also a fourth-generation Wyomingite who grew up on a ranch.

“Wyoming is in my DNA. Washington, D.C., is in Liz Cheney's DNA,” Hageman said, referencing the congresswoman’s father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and her longtime residence in the Washington, D.C., area before moving back to Wyoming in 2012.

“She's never really focused like she should have laser-focused on the issues that are important in Wyoming: protection of our private property rights, protecting our oil and gas industry and our coal industry,” Hageman said.

PRESSURE GROWS ON ANTI-CHENEY PRIMARY CHALLENGERS TO QUIT AFTER TRUMP ENDORSEMENT

Hageman pointed to her position on the select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Cheney to the role as one of two Republicans on the committee — as an example of Cheney straying from Wyoming priorities and “giving the Democrats cover.”

Within hours of announcing her campaign last week, Trump endorsed her as his preferred challenger against his top Republican critic in Congress, following several meetings with other contenders. She’s also working with a flock of Trump allies and alumni, signaling the importance of Trump’s marquee revenge primary.

The Trump endorsement prompted three other candidates — State Rep. Chuck Gray, attorney Darin Smith, and Sheridan County Republican Party Bryan Miller — to suspend their campaigns so that Cheney doesn't win the Republican primary next August with a plurality of the vote. If they all ran, that could all but assure her reelection in a state that voted for Trump in 2020 by more than 20%.

However, some of Hageman’s remaining opponents and critics paint her as a party insider not so different from the current Wyoming congresswoman. Cheney’s campaign listed her as a campaign adviser in 2014 and 2016, and Hageman donated a total of $2,000 to Cheney campaigns in 2014 and 2016, according to Federal Election Commission data. Others point to a 2016 Republican National Committee rules fight described as an effort to deprive Trump of the nomination.

Hageman disputes that.

“We were working on some rule changes, none of which had anything to do with stripping President Trump of the nomination,” she said.

Instead, Hageman said she advocated for closed primaries to prevent Democratic voters from influencing Republican nominations and pushed to increase the number of delegates in Republican-run states.

Protesters hold anti-U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., signs during a rally Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, outside the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne. Gaetz spoke to hundreds, bashing Rep. Cheney after she voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and called for a group effort in finding the right nominee to replace her when she is up for reelection in 2022. (Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle via AP) (Michael Cummo/AP)


Hageman's break with Cheney, she said, started last summer when Cheney latched on to news stories that said Russians offered bounties to Taliban-lined militants for killing U.S. troops and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Cheney demanded answers from the Trump White House about the lack of action on the intelligence, and President Joe Biden used the story as a campaign argument. But in April, the Biden administration said they could not substantiate any intelligence on Russian bounties.

“I started questioning what was going on with her then because that seemed like such a bizarre approach for her to take,” Hageman said. “She never waited for the facts to come out before she started attacking President Trump.”

Then in November 2020, Cheney was among the first handful of Republicans nudging Trump to respect “the sanctity of our electoral process” if he could not prove claims of widespread fraud in court.

Around that time, Hageman said Cheney started calling around to shore up support in the state after blowback to her position — including Hageman herself.

“I disagreed with her,” Hageman said. “I said, ‘I can see with my own eyes. I've watched videos, I've seen the affidavits … There are a lot of questions about irregularities in that election. And I'm not willing to just sweep them under the rug and say it's over.’”

She said she hasn’t spoken to Cheney since that call.

Hageman still has “legitimate questions” about what happened in the 2020 election, pointing to a Time magazine article on Democratic allies who led a “shadow campaign” to shore up the election through litigation, pressuring platforms to remove “disinformation,” expanding mail-in voting, and organizing poll volunteers. She did not specify whether she would have objected to certifying the Electoral College results.

When it comes to the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol, Hageman did not make excuses for the rioters.

“To the extent that they trespassed or they destroyed property, they should be held accountable,” she said.

“But I also agree with what Thomas Sowell has said” — paraphrasing the prominent conservative economist and social theorist — “that we're quickly moving to a society where we are no longer responsible for our own actions, but we are collectively responsible for the actions of others, no matter when they took place.”

(Courtesy Harriet Hageman campaign)


Cheney responded to Hageman’s campaign announcement by calling it “tragic opportunism” and stressing her arguments about upholding the Constitution in the face of election fraud claims from Trump. On a press call last week, she accused Hageman of “abandoning her duty to the people of Wyoming in order to pledge loyalty to Donald Trump” and “stepping into the shoes of people like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, two attorneys who have recently been sanctioned by the courts for lying about the election.”

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGON EXAMINER

But Hageman signals there are plenty of issues in which she can draw a contrast with Cheney.

One of those is the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Hageman blames Biden for overseeing a chaotic withdrawal, which included Wyoming Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum being killed in an ISIS-K bombing. But she says the “majority of the people in the United States agree that we needed to get out of a place like Afghanistan.”

Cheney opposed removing U.S. forces in the first place and called it a “Trump/Biden calamity.”

“She's supposed to be the foreign affairs person,” Hageman said. “Whenever she speaks on this topic, she will very briefly blame President Biden and his administration for this fiasco in this disaster. But because of her ongoing war with President Trump, she then immediately pivots and starts attacking him.”

“Here's the way that I would put that: This disaster was caused by President Biden and his administration. That is the end of the discussion, period,” Hageman said. “If you cannot stick that landing, then you do not deserve to be in Congress.”

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Tags: News, Campaign, Wyoming, 2022 Elections, Liz Cheney, Donald Trump, Campaigns

Original Author: Emily Brooks

Original Location: Cheney challenger Harriet Hageman: ‘She betrayed me’ and Wyoming

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