One day before the country roused itself from a holiday break, one of the most powerful families in Republican politics issued a double-barreled rebuke of President Trump.
Dick Cheney, the former vice president, and Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, drew on their significant political capital and decades of experience in Washington to attack the president’s false claims of vote stealing and his undemocratic effort to overturn the election, which President-elect Joe Biden won.
It was a significant moment because of Liz Cheney’s upward political trajectory, and placed her at the front of the one lane of the Republican Party that has refused to yield to Trump’s attempted coup.
Cheney, a 54-year-old congresswoman from Wyoming, released a 21-page memo that excoriated the attempts by some Republicans in Congress to challenge the election results, which they plan to do on Wednesday. The memo included a thorough compendium of all the ways in which state and federal courts have dismissed and rejected claims of cheating.
“By objecting to electoral slates, members are unavoidably asserting that Congress has the authority to overturn elections and overrule state and federal courts. Such objections set an exceptionally dangerous precedent, threatening to steal states’ explicit constitutional responsibility for choosing the President and bestowing it instead on Congress. This is directly at odds with the Constitution’s clear text and our core beliefs as Republicans,” Cheney wrote in the memo, which was published Sunday.
As for the proposal by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to form a commission to conduct “an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns,” Cheney responded with barely concealed scorn.
“Did those proposing a new commission realize that they were in essence proposing to delay the inaugural? Did they mean to set up a new future precedent where the inaugural is delayed and we have an ‘Acting President?’ For how long? Who decides when that process is over? Will that require another Act of Congress? Could the Acting President veto any such future Congressional action? If Congress has authority to create such a commission now, are state elections, recounts and state law legal challenges just ‘make-work’ until Congress gets around to investigating and deciding who should be President?” Cheney wrote.