Donald Trump took direct aim Thursday at Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, endorsing Wyoming lawyer Harriet Hageman in her GOP primary bid to unseat the anti-Trump lawmaker who says the party needs to move past the volatile ex-president.
“Harriet is all in for America First,” Trump said in a written statement, while denouncing Cheney as a “RINO” – “Republican in Name Only” – and “the Democrats number one provider of sound bites.”
Trump, who says he vetted several Wyoming Republicans who wanted to challenge Cheney, has urged candidates to unite behind one challenger who could have a one-on-one race against Cheney.
Cheney, targeted by Trump since her vote to impeach him in January, responded by re-tweeting his announcement along with a defiant statement of her own.
“Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it,” Cheney tweeted.
While seeking to influence the 2022 congressional elections, Trump also wants to defeat the 10 House Republicans who supported impeaching him over the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
That list is led by Cheney, who was the third-ranking House Republican when she cast her impeachment vote.
The third-term House member – and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney – said Trump’s false claims of a “stolen election” by President Joe Biden incited the Jan. 6 riot, and threatens more political violence in the future.
Despite intense blowback from Trump and congressional allies, Cheney has continued to say that the Republican Party should move past Trump and pick a new leader ahead of congressional elections in 2022 and the presidential race in 2024.
Four months after her impeachment vote, House Republicans still loyal to Trump responded by removing Cheney from her post as House Republican Conference chair, the number three position in party leadership.
Cheney is currently one of two Republicans serving on a special committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy,” Cheney said in May.
The ex-president has also endorsed primary challengers to House Republicans and impeachment supporters Anthony Gonzalez in Ohio, Fred Upton of Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington.
Trump also supports a challenger to Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump of impeachment charges.
In the Wyoming race, Trump said he was worried by the prospect of numerous Republicans planning to run against Cheney. Multiple candidates could split the pro-Trump vote, he said, and enable Cheney to win the primary with only a plurality of the vote.
“The easiest way to defeat Deplorable Liz Cheney is by having only ONE Conservative candidate run and WIN!” Trump said in a late July statement.
In endorsing Hageman, Trump praised her stances on border enforcement, crime, gun rights and what he called “Election Integrity.” He denounced Cheney as a “warmonger and disloyal Republican.”
Hageman is a former supporter of Cheney, having donated to her 2014 and 2016 congressional campaigns.
Earlier this week, Hageman resigned from the Wyoming state Republican committee in order to announce her challenge to Cheney. In her resignation letter, Hageman criticized Cheney by noting that the state party had voted to censure the lawmaker over her impeachment vote.
“I also believe that by censuring Rep. Liz Cheney we sent the strong message that we expect our elected officials to respect the views and values of the people who elected them,” Hageman wrote. “Accountability is key and I am proud of our party for demanding it.”
In a Facebook posting announcing her candidacy Thursday, Hageman said: “I’m running for Congress because I am a Deep-Rooted Wyomingite who is sick of being misrepresented in Washington. We need a Tough Conservative to stand up against (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi, not help her divide Republicans.”