Donald Trump is set to back Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman as she prepares a primary challenge against GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, according to three people with knowledge of his plans, marking the most important political endorsement yet in Trump’s post-presidency.
Trump’s looming involvement in the primary will test his political power in the GOP like never before, as he seeks to punish the most high-profile House Republican to vote for his impeachment in January. His allies and team not only encouraged Hageman to run against Cheney — they now are under pressure to clear the crowded primary field of other candidates who could split anti-Cheney sentiment, which would give the incumbent the chance to win her primary with only a plurality.
Cheney became Trump’s top Republican target after she spoke out against his role inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. House Republicans soon stripped her of her leadership post, and one of Trump’s sons and a top Trump ally have already campaigned against her in Wyoming.
At the same time, Trump threw himself into the process of vetting and interviewing multiple candidates running or exploring campaigns against Cheney with the goal of anointing a single challenger. Ultimately, he chose Hageman because she impressed him the most, according to the people with knowledge of his plans.
In a final step before officially announcing her campaign later this week, Hageman resigned Tuesday as one of Wyoming’s members of the Republican National Committee.
“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. Accountability is key and I am proud of our party for demanding it,” Hageman wrote in her resignation letter.
Hageman isn’t just banking on Trump’s endorsement in the coming primary against Cheney: Top Trump staffers and allies are in her corner, including some who are in talks to occupy key roles on her campaign or with a super PAC prepared to back her. Some former Trump campaign hands and advisers met with Hageman in March at the urging of local conservatives.
Trump’s endorsement announcement could come any day, but he has already told Hageman that she has his support, sources said.
“He interviewed a lot of people, and when it was done, it was clear she’s in a class of her own,” said one Republican familiar with Trump’s selection process who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about his decision.
Aside from her Trump connection, Hageman’s campaign credentials include her status as a fourth-generation Wyomingite who grew up on a ranch, later becoming a conservative activist and top land-use attorney in a state where land is a political issue. In 2018, her tough-talking campaign for governor made her a conservative favorite, though she finished in third place in a crowded primary. Still, that campaign made Hageman one of Cheney’s only likely challengers who had previously run statewide in Wyoming.
It's pretty obvious that the entire GOP now works for Donald Trump, and Trump's slate of 2022 revenge endorsements against those he feels weren't loyal enough to him, replacing them for Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan clones is really the only thing that might save the House for the Democrats as his hand-picked, double-dipped lunatics lose general election after general election.
We'll see what happens, but Liz Cheney's political career is close to being permanently over, I think. She'll get a nice corporate lawyer job and then a think tank sinecure in a few years, but like most Dubya-era Republicans, she'll be excluded from any real decisions in the party.
Not that she doesn't deserve the ignominy, but the country may actually pay a worse price for getting rid of her.