CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump endorsed a Wyoming attorney on Thursday in his campaign to unseat U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, one of his most vocal Republican critics.
Trump endorsed Harriet Hageman, who launched a primary campaign Thursday against Cheney, the most prominent member of Congress to vote for Trump’s second impeachment. The endorsement is his most significant to date as he works to maintain his status as GOP kingmaker and tries to exact revenge on those who voted to impeach him or blocked his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“I strongly endorse Republican House of Representatives Candidate Harriet Hageman from Wyoming who is running against warmonger and disloyal Republican, Liz Cheney,” Trump said in a statement. “Harriet has my Complete and Total Endorsement in replacing the Democrats number one provider of sound bites, Liz Cheney.”
Cheney responded in a tweet: “Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it.”
Trump has already endorsed several Republicans challenging GOP incumbents, including Kelly Tshibaka, who is running against Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska; Michigan State Rep. Steve Carra, who is trying to unseat longtime Rep. Fred Upton; former White House aide Max Miller, who is running against Rep. Anthony Gonzalez in Ohio; and Joe Kent, who is challenging Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in Washington.
All voted in favor of impeaching Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Trump met with Hageman last month as he assessed the potential candidate pool, hoping an early endorsement would help clear the field and prevent a crowded primary that might be advantageous to Cheney’s reelection bid. At least half a dozen other Republicans have announced their intentions to run.
Hageman was an early supporter of Cheney’s unsuccessful attempt in 2013 and 2014 to oust popular U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi. But in a statement from her campaign, she said she is “taking on Cheney, who has angered Wyoming voters and was censured by the Wyoming Republican Party earlier this year, largely for her support of the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.”
“The people of Wyoming deserve leaders who reflect their views and values, but Liz Cheney betrayed us because of her personal war with President Trump, who won Wyoming by massive majorities twice,” Hageman said. “Cheney has lost the trust of the people of our state, just as she has lost any ability to be a leader for us in Washington, D.C.”
Hageman finished third in a six-way Republican gubernatorial primary in 2018, getting 21% of the vote. She grew up on a ranch near Fort Laramie in southeastern Wyoming. She holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Wyoming.
She’s listed as a senior attorney with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm that aims to protect “constitutional freedoms from violations by the administrative state,” according to its mission statement.
Her Cheyenne law firm touts its ties to Wyoming’s ranching industry and Hageman’s involvement in lawsuits over wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park, grazing on U.S. Bureau of Land Management land and water rights, among other issues.
She recently expressed support on Facebook for a new Texas law banning most abortions and has been a longtime cheerleader for the state’s coal mining industry.
Undercutting a common line of attack against Cheney — that she spent most of her life outside Wyoming before moving to Jackson Hole in 2012 — Hageman told The Associated Press in 2013 that Cheney’s family had a long history in Wyoming and that such criticism was a “distraction.”
Hageman also donated $1,500 to Cheney for her successful first run for the U.S. House in 2016, and photographs of the pair together were already being used as campaign fodder.