Saturday, December 9, 2023

Excerpt from Liz Cheney's book: Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning - Review Coming Next!

I added a number of videos which make up most, if not all, of the recent interview by Rachel Maddow with Liz Cheney... For One Reason, I wanted to spotlight Rachel's prelude about just how different she and Liz were related to political issues. Yet, beyond that, both Rachel and Liz were supporters of the United State Constitution and were Not Election Deniers... This, to me, is one of the most important issues that we must make clear to those still supporting our past president. ALL OF US--NOT JUST POLITICIANS ARE RESPONSIBLE TO KEEP THE CONSTITUTION!*

Like Rachel, I was never a supporter of Trump. In fact, as an Independent-registered citizen, once I saw just how badly things were, I switched to register as a Democrat, simply because I wanted to be able to vote at primaries which my state does not now allow. And, as Rachel describes the differences she had with Liz, I realized more than ever that I, too, was definitely not a conservative related to policies. Indeed I had been involved with improving women's rights for most of my professional career and I didn't plan to ever go backward in those rights...



FOR MOST OF OUR HISTORY, the counting of electoral votes by Congress has been an uneventful, though important, constitutional proceeding. Before 2021, the vote count I had the most distinct recollection of was January 6, 2001. That year, Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, invited our family to tour the vice president’s residence at the US Naval Observatory. My parents would be moving in after my father was sworn in as vice president on January 20, 2001. 

Vice President Gore met us at the front door of the 19th-century mansion in Northwest Washington. Although it was a Saturday, he was wearing a suit and tie. The rest of us were dressed more casually. He smiled as he explained the business attire: “I’m on my way to preside over the counting of electoral votes for your victory, Cheney,” he said. There was no bitterness in Vice President Gore’s voice as he left to carry out his constitutional duty. It had been a hard-fought campaign and one of the closest presidential elections in history. A few weeks earlier, on December 13, 2000, after multiple rounds of litigation, Al Gore had conceded the race, saying, in part: Almost a century and a half ago, Senator Stephen Douglas told Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the presidency, “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.” 

Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country. The election was over, Gore said: Resolved, as it must be resolved, through the honored institutions of our democracy… I know many of my supporters are disappointed. I am, too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country. 

Al Gore’s concession speech was both gracious and patriotic—one of the best concession speeches ever given by a presidential candidate. By any measure, the presidential election in 2000 had been far closer than the 2020 contest. President George W. Bush’s victory in 2000 had ultimately come down to just over 500 votes in Florida, with a razor-thin Electoral College margin of 271 to 266. 

By contrast, Donald Trump lost in 2020 by more than 70 electoral votes. His nationwide popular-vote deficit of seven million represented a 5 percent gap—not even close. Trump would have needed tens of thousands more votes across at least three different states to reverse his Electoral College loss. 

But by January 6, 2021, Donald Trump had consumed a good portion of almost every day in a rage: inventing and spreading lies about election fraud, preying on the patriotism of his supporters, and telling them they had to “fight like hell” if they wanted to save their country. He had summoned them to Washington for a “big protest” on the day of the congressional vote count, promising them it would be “wild.” The United States had never seen anything like this. 

Some of my Republican colleagues in the House were preparing to use Trump’s stolen-election lies as the basis for an unconstitutional attempt to overturn the election results. Historian Timothy Snyder has described the deep damage this was doing to our country: “Making [Trump’s] fictions the basis of congressional action gave them flesh.” A sinister feeling was in the air in the days before January 6, 2021. Most members of Congress recognized the potential for danger. I didn’t know exactly what might happen, but security was a real concern. 

For more than seven years, while my dad was vice president, I was a Secret Service protectee. The brave, patriotic, and professional men and women of the Secret Service had kept my family and me safe. I have stayed in touch with many of them for nearly 20 years. A few days before January 6, I called one of these former agents, a person who had headed multiple protective details, and asked for security advice. He helped me arrange for private security on January 6. Another retired agent would drive me to and from the Capitol and remain on standby throughout the day. And in the days that followed January 6, a number of other former agents provided a private security detail. These were some of the same people who had protected my family when the threat we faced was from al-Qaeda terrorists. Now they were protecting me again—this time in the face of threats from our fellow citizens, mobilized to violence by an American president. 

Before heading for the Capitol on the morning of January 6, I was watching news coverage of the statements Trump had made over the last 48 hours. He had been tweeting repeatedly about the “thousands of people pouring into D.C.,” suggesting the outcome of the election could change on January 6, and threatening that the crowds “won’t stand for a landslide election victory to be stolen.” He was also spreading the lie that the “Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.” 

I wanted there to be no doubt about the responsibilities of Congress that day, so I put out this statement: We have sworn an oath under God to defend the Constitution. We uphold that oath at all times, not only when it is politically convenient. Congress has no authority to overturn elections by objecting to electors. Doing so steals power from the states and violates the Constitution. As we drove down the George Washington Memorial Parkway to Capitol Hill, I was working to make sure Republicans who were not objecting to electoral votes would be given time to speak during the floor debate. Normally, debate on the floor is equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. In this case, we needed to ensure that the objectors would not monopolize all the Republican speaking slots. I also called in to a local Wyoming radio station, KGAB, to do an interview about the day’s upcoming proceedings. 

It was clear from the host’s questions that disinformation about what Congress could do on January 6 had taken hold.*

I described how America’s presidential-election process works, and how allegations of fraud had already been addressed in the courts. I also explained that Congress had no authority to overturn an election. If we do this, I said, four years from now there will be nothing to stop the Democrats from saying they disagree with the electors Wyoming has chosen—then substituting their preferred candidate for ours. 

When we arrived on Capitol Hill, we parked in the Cannon House Office Building garage, and I walked through the underground tunnel to the Capitol. I got on the elevator in the basement to ride up to the second floor, where the House chamber is located. The elevator stopped on the first floor. When the

doors opened, my friend Joyce Hamlett was standing there. Joyce had worked in the Capitol for over 35 years. Since 2007, she had been the “Keeper of the Mace.” 

The mace is one of the oldest objects in the Capitol, and one of the most important symbols of our nation’s government. As she stepped into the elevator shortly before noon on January 6, Joyce was carrying the large silver mace in her gloved hands. A little over four feet long, the mace is made of 13 ebony rods (representing the 13 original states) wrapped by two interwoven silver bands—an ancient Roman design meant to symbolize the strength of unity. Topped with a silver globe and an eagle with outstretched wings, the mace represents the power and authority of the House of Representatives, and is carried into the chamber whenever the House is in session. It stands on a pedestal on the rostrum near the Speaker. 

The current mace dates from 1841. The original was destroyed when the British invaded and burned the Capitol in 1814. I was honored to be riding with Joyce that morning. We had spent a lot of time talking together in the well of the House over the previous difficult months. Today, the House and Senate would meet and perform our constitutional duty. 

To mark the occasion, I took a picture of Joyce holding the mace. Neither of us would have predicted that a few hours later, Joyce would be forced to rush the mace off the House floor to protect it from an irate mob of our own countrymen. 

The House chamber was cold when I walked in that morning. The temperature had been lowered in preparation for the bright television lights and additional people, including the senators and staff members, who would be attending the joint session. Inside the Republican cloakroom, members were signing their names on sheets of paper spread out on tables against the wall. 

I asked what they were doing. A cloakroom staffer explained that they were signing the electoral-vote objections. The signature sheets were arranged by state, in alphabetical order from left to right, Arizona to Wisconsin. This was purely for show. 

Each objection is made by a single member of Congress. If a senator joins, there is debate and a vote. Every House member would be recorded voting on any objection a senator joined. Signing these pieces of paper was therefore meaningless—except as yet another public display of fealty to Donald Trump. Most of the members taking part in the sheet-signing ritual knew it was a farce. Among them was Republican Congressman Mark Green of Tennessee. As he moved down the line, signing his name to the pieces of paper, Green said sheepishly to no one in particular, “The things we do for the Orange Jesus.” 

I shook my head and walked to the other end of the room. Ryan O’Toole, a member of Kevin McCarthy’s cloakroom staff, let me use his computer to finish the remarks I planned to make during the upcoming debate on objections. Shortly after January 6, Ryan would quit working for McCarthy and come to work for me. 

While I was sitting at Ryan’s desk, my dad called me. “Are you listening to Trump?” he asked. Trump was speaking at a rally on the Ellipse, but I hadn’t been listening. “He just told the crowd they should ‘get rid of the Liz Cheneys of the world.’ He has created a serious threat to your security.”*

I stepped into a cloakroom phone booth for privacy and slid the door shut. “You are in danger,” my dad said. “You need to be aware of that as you think about whether to go forward with your remarks.” My dad’s voice was steady—and deadly serious. I knew he was angry and worried as a father, and I knew that his heart was breaking for our country. 

The president of the United States was attempting to utilize an angry crowd as a weapon to threaten Congress, to prevent us from carrying out our constitutional duty. My father knew immediately and unequivocally that Trump’s speech was likely to cause violence. And now Trump had targeted me directly. I listened to what my dad was saying, but I think we both knew what the answer had to be. There was no world in which I would let Donald Trump threaten or bully me into abandoning my duty. 

“I can’t stay silent out of fear, Dad.”* “Okay,” he said. “I understand. But please call me as soon as you’re speech is done.” I said I would and I told him I loved him. The next time I talked to my father, I was being rushed from the House chamber as the violent mob mobilized by Trump stormed through the Capitol. 

The remarks I had written for that day, but never got the chance to deliver, said this: 

Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to the objection. Let me begin by noting how disappointed I am at having to rise today to address this issue. I wanted the election to turn out differently. But I’m bound by a solemn oath, given before God, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. I cannot comply with that oath only when it is convenient politically. Our oaths are not given to any specific president. They are given to preserve the Constitutional structure that has governed our republic for over 230 years. The oath does not bend or yield to popular sentiment, mob rule, or political threats. We do not compromise our oath. It compels us to adhere to the Constitution and rule of law…always.
What the Constitution requires here is not a mystery. It is clear from the plain text of Article II and the 12th Amendment. The states and the people have the authority to choose the president, not Congress. Some have suggested that we should read more into the Constitution than it says—inferring authority the framers did not give us. We do not have some secret unwritten constitutional authority to overturn elections, impose our will, contradict state law, and contradict the rulings of the courts. If we assert that we do, we are creating a tyranny of Congress, stealing power from the states, and striking at the foundations of our republic. In the years to come, historians and scholars will take account of what we say here today. They will credit those who stood true to the text of the Constitution and honored their oaths.


Later, as television coverage began to show Donald Trump’s armed mob surging through metal security barriers, attacking police officers, and scaling the walls outside the Capitol Building, my dad feared that the Capitol Police were losing control. He thought that it had become too dangerous for me to remain on the House floor, so he called my chief of staff, Kara Ahern. “You need to go get Liz,” he said. “She isn’t safe.” Kara and my special assistant, Will Henderson, worked with the retired agent providing my security that day to find a way to evacuate me. But it was already too late. The Capitol had been breached.*

*(My Emphasis)

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