Soon-to-be-former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) lost her August primary to Harriet Hageman by nearly 40 points, now Rep.-elect Hageman. It was in large part because she wasn't so much representing her constituents as she was focusing on taking down former and potentially future President Donald Trump. A July poll from the Casper-Star Tribune that was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy found that 61 percent of respondents agreed "Liz Cheney's opposition to Trump affected her ability to deal with the important Wyoming issues." It's not just Wyomingites polled over the summer who thought so, though. It turns out that so do staffers of Cheney's beloved January 6 select committee, where she serves as the vice chair.
"Jan. 6 panel staffers angry at Cheney for focusing so much of report on Trump," read the headline of a lengthy Wednesday report from The Washington Post.
While the report's opening paragraph begins by claiming that Cheney "has exerted a remarkable level of control over much of the committee’s public and private work," it very quickly took another turn.
For as the report goes on to mention:
Now, less than six weeks before the conclusion of the committee’s work, Cheney’s influence over the committee’s final report has rankled many current and former committee staff. They are angered and disillusioned by Cheney’s push to focus the report primarily on former president Donald Trump, and have bristled at the committee morphing into what they have come to view as the vehicle for the outgoing Wyoming lawmaker’s political future.
Fifteen former and current staffers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, expressed concerns that important findings unrelated to Trump will not become available to the American public.
Several committee staff members were floored earlier this month when they were told that a draft report would focus almost entirely on Trump and the work of the committee’s Gold Team, excluding reams of other investigative work.
Potentially left on the cutting room floor, or relegated to an appendix, were many revelations from the Blue Team — the group that dug into the law enforcement and intelligence community’s failure to assess the looming threat and prepare for the well-forecast attack on the Capitol. The proposed report would also cut back on much of the work of the Green Team, which looked at financing for the Jan. 6 attack, and the Purple Team, which examined militia groups and extremism.
People familiar with the committee’s work said Cheney has taken a far more hands-on role than Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), who is chairing the committee. She is said by multiple staffers to want the report to focus on Trump, and has pushed for the hearings to focus extensively on his conduct — and not what she views as other sideshows.
Two people familiar with the process argued that without Cheney’s guidance, the committee would not be on track to submit a cohesive final report by the end of the year. One of these people described some of the output from investigators as being “uneven.”
That same poll mentioned above also found that 64 percent disapproved of "Liz Cheney's decision to serve on the Jan. 6 committee," and 54 percent said it made them less likely to vote for her.
It's not likely that this report will have much of an effect on Cheney, though. She continues to speak out against Trump, including and especially when it comes to her obsessive crusade about stopping him from becoming president again. Cheney has even hinted that she'll challenge him in 2024, though unlike Trump, she has yet to formally announce.
Sure enough, one of those anonymous staffers is quoted as mentioning a likely presidential run. "We all came from prestigious jobs, dropping what we were doing because we were told this would be an important fact-finding investigation that would inform the public," one former committee staffer is quoted as saying. "But when [the committee] became a Cheney 2024 campaign, many of us became discouraged," the staffer added.
Spokesmen for Cheney and for the select committee, Jeremy Adler and Tim Mulvey, respectively, are cited by name. If anything, it further highlights why it is that criticisms towards Cheney exist:
“Donald Trump is the first president in American history to attempt to overturn an election and prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” Adler said. “So, damn right Liz is ‘prioritizing’ understanding what he did and how he did it and ensuring it never happens again.”
Adler added, “Some staff have submitted subpar material for the report that reflects long-held liberal biases about federal law enforcement, Republicans, and sociological issues outside the scope of the Select Committee’s work. She won’t sign onto any ‘narrative’ that suggests Republicans are inherently racist or smears men and women in law enforcement, or suggests every American who believes God has blessed America is a white supremacist.”
Tim Mulvey, the select committee’s spokesman, said in a separate statement that the panel’s “historic, bipartisan fact-finding effort speaks for itself, and that won’t be changed by a handful of disgruntled staff who are uninformed about many parts of the committee’s ongoing work.”
“They’ve forgotten their duties as public servants and their cowardice is helping Donald Trump and others responsible for the violence of January 6th,” Mulvey’s statement continued. “All nine committee members continue to review materials and make contributions to the draft report, which will address every key aspect of the committee’s investigation. Decisions about the contents of the report ultimately rest with the committee’s bipartisan membership, not the staff.”
Cheney still doesn't get it, that much is clear.