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Liz Cheney Braces for Wyoming’s Verdict, but History Will Have to Wait

The big news tonight is the fate of Rep. Liz Cheney, whose final-day conversion from committed Republican partisan to Donald Trump’s Chief Inquisitor in Congress has been one of the most compelling storylines of the past 18 months.

In a matter of hours, we should know if Cheney is able to keep her seat as the sole member of the Wyoming House while helping to investigate the leader of her own party — or whether her decision to do so has made an abomination to the Republican grassroots voters.

You can follow the results here. The polling stations closed at 9 p.m. Dutch time.

Surveys show that Cheney is far behind her primary opponent, a Trump supporter named Harriet Hageman, even though she has greatly exalted and outdone her challenger thanks to her much louder national megaphone.

But it is precisely her fame that has probably doomed Cheney to Trump’s key voters, who see her as a renegade and a traitor to their cause.

It was Cheney who spoke within the Republican Party after the Capitol attack, ask her colleagues whether Trump considered stepping down after whipping up the crowd on Jan. 6, 2021.

It was Cheney whose excommunication from the GOP has sparked a much larger discussion about the direction of a party that has, in the eyes of many, become a cult of personality, centered on a person who is completely detached from traditional conservative principles.

And it was Cheney whose Road-to-Damascus moment awakened her to an entirely new mission: from rising swiftly through the ranks of the Republican leadership in the House to turning her back on a party her family has done so much to support. to give shape.

To understand Cheney’s astonishing turn of events—and her apparent stoicism in the face of what appears to be an almost certain defeat in today’s Wyoming primaries—I spoke to my colleague Jonathan Martin, who knows her story as well as anyone. also. .

Our conversation, slightly edited for length and clarity:

Republicans I speak to often seem baffled by Liz Cheney. They want to know what her real motivations are, assuming she has some ulterior motives outside of the Jan. 6 commission explaining her stance against Trump. What do you think of that?

I think it’s fair to say – and perhaps very clearly – that she has resigned herself to losing her primary. But as for motivations, I don’t think it’s any more complicated than what she’s said publicly about her main goal: to prevent Trump from returning to the White House.

That is clearly the purpose of her work on the Jan. 6 committee (which, much more than the Wyoming primaries, is her focus). As we recently reported, she privately told her colleagues on the panel in July that they had “done more to prevent Trump from ever regaining power than any group to date.”

What do you think Liz Cheney learned from her father about politics or life or public service?

I would only edit the question to say she is still learning.

They stay very close and speak every day. In fact, Liz’s inner circle isn’t much bigger than her parents and her old chief of staff. She inherited her policy views, love of history, and belief in American exceptionalism from both parents (remember, her mother, Lynne, is a historian). Their views on Trump are clear enough from Liz and .’s comments the recent ad from the former vice president.

But there’s something less well-known: the family’s love for the home. History would have been different if Liz had gone to Wyoming’s open Senate seat in 2020.

But she grew up in a household, her father served as the second Republican in the 1980s. Her parents even wrote a book, “Kings of the Hill,” about somewhat forgotten House speakers from the past. And Liz herself looked set to become a future speaker, until she broke with much of her party after the 2020 election.

I’ve heard it said that Cheney thinks she’s playing with history, and that she voluntarily chooses martyrdom in Wyoming because, in a way, she thinks it’s fate. Does that sound good to you?

Yes indeed. She is convinced that she is heeding the call of history and that Trump must be stopped to protect her party and the country.

For the crazies out there, Liz really believes in the Great Man theory of history, and she would like American schools to rededicate themselves to this approach. That’s what she told me when I interviewed her in Cheyenne this month.

I think we all assume she goes down with the ship in Wyoming tonight. Apart from the top result, what are you looking for in the figures?

I am very curious about the gap between urban and rural areas and what you could call the education gap. We know from polls that Trump is stronger with Republicans without college degrees. How much does that show in the proxy war here in Wyoming?

We have this determined focus in the Washington chat class on whether famous politicians like Cheney want to run for president. But there are other options, of course, like setting up a political action committee to lose weight, like John Bolton did, or starting some sort of think tank or institution, like John McCain did. What are you hearing about what the Liz Cheney superfans in the disgruntled corners of the GOP want her to do next?

I think it’s perfectly plausible that she could run for president or set up an organization to block Trump. And I think as long as Trump is blocked, her fans would be pretty happy.

  • In addition to Liz Cheney’s race in Wyoming, two other prominent Republican women — Senator Lisa Murkowski and Sarah Palin, the former vice presidential candidate — face Alaska’s primary voters today. Follow live updates on both states (but be warned that due to Alaska’s unique electoral system, the games may not be held tonight).

  • Two leading House Democrats accused the Trump-appointed Department of Homeland Security internal watchdog — which has come under criticism for its handling of an investigation into missing Secret Service text messages around the time of the Capitol uprising — of refusing to cooperate with the demands of Congress. and he even blocked his employees from testifying before Congress.

  • White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin, White House counsel and his deputy under Trump, were allegedly interviewed by the FBI over boxes of sensitive documents stored at Mar-a-Lago after Trump left office, Maggie Haberman reports. . (Here’s a timeline of Trump’s false and misleading comments about the search of his Florida home.)

  • Nicholas Fandos profiles Representative Carolyn Maloney, who is “approaching the endgame of an unwelcome, wide-open and increasingly vicious primary battle against her longtime congressional neighbor, Representative Jerrold Nadler, after a New York court unexpectedly combined their Manhattan districts this spring.”

— Blake

Is there anything you think we’re missing? Something you want to see more of? We would love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

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