On July 16, 2013, Cheney announced that she would run for the Senate in 2014 from Wyoming as a Republican, challenging incumbent Republican senator Mike Enzi. The National Republican Senatorial Committee said it would back Enzi, as was policy. Cheney was expected to receive strong fundraising, but was subject to public perceptions of carpetbagging, having lived in Wyoming only a few years as a child before purchasing a home there in 2012. When she launched her 2014 Senate campaign, she did it with a Facebook post geotagged to McLean, Virginia, her primary residence at the time. During that campaign, The New Republic columnist Jon Ward wrote, "she talked up her Wyoming roots and dressed in boots. But when I chatted with her at one stop, her jeans were so new that her hands were stained blue from touching them." In the video announcing her candidacy, she noted that the Cheney family first came to Wyoming in 1852. Her father represented Wyoming in the House from 1979 to 1989.
Elizabeth Lynne Cheney (/ˈtʃeɪni/ CHAY-nee; born July 28, 1966) is an American attorney and politician who has been the U.S. representative for Wyoming's at-large congressional district since 2017. She chaired the House Republican Conference, the third-highest position in the House Republican leadership, from 2019 to 2021.
Elizabeth Lynne Cheney was born on July 28, 1966, in Madison, Wisconsin, the elder of two daughters of former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Second Lady Lynne Cheney (née Vincent). At the time of her birth, her parents were studying at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her younger sister, Mary Cheney, was also born in Madison. Cheney attended part of sixth and seventh grade in Casper, Wyoming, while her father campaigned for Congress. The family divided its time between Casper and Washington, D.C. in the 1970s through the 1980s, following her father's election to Congress. In 1984 Cheney graduated from McLean High School, where she was a cheerleader. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Colorado College, her mother's alma mater, where she wrote her senior thesis, "The Evolution of Presidential War Powers". She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School in 1996. While there, she also took courses in Middle Eastern history at the Oriental Institute.
Cheney is a United Methodist. She is married to Philip Perry, a partner at Latham & Watkins. They were married in Wyoming in 1993. They have five children.
In 2002, Cheney was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, a preexisting vacant post with an "economic portfolio", a mandate to promote investment in the region. Amid reports, including a New York Times op-ed piece by Paul Krugman, that the job was created especially for her, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that she had come recommended by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. The Sunday Times reported that Cheney's appointment was "the most intriguing sign that America is getting serious about Middle East reform" and "a measure of the seriousness with which the administration was taking Middle East programmes for literacy, education, and reform". The appointment followed publicized policy divisions between the Vice President's office and the State Department on Middle East policy. In that position, she was given control of the Middle East Partnership Initiative, designed to "foster increased democracy and economic progress in a troubled region". The program spent $29 million in 2002, increased to $129 million in the following year. Cheney's task was to channel money to prescreened groups, some of which were not identified publicly for fear of retaliations from extant governments they sought to undermine. For the budget year 2004, the project sought $145 million.
After two years, Cheney left her State Department post in 2003 to work for the Bush–Cheney 2004 reelection campaign. She participated in the campaign's "W Stands for Women" initiative to target female voters.
On February 14, 2005, she returned to the U.S. State Department and was appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State For Near Eastern Affairs and Coordinator for Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiatives. In this position, Cheney supported the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, C. David Welch, and coordinated multilateral efforts to promote and support democracy and expand education and economic opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa. Cheney oversaw the launch of two semi-independent foundations, the Fund of the Future (worth $100 million), to provide capital for small businesses, and the Foundation of the Future (worth $55 million), to promote freedom of the press and democracy. In that capacity, Cheney endorsed a draft of a new Iraqi constitution.
Cheney also headed the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group (ISOG), established in March 2006, a unit within the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.
In April 2006, The New York Times published a story that was critical of Cheney's work, particularly with respect to Iran. The International Republican Institute, a grants program administered by Cheney's unit in collaboration with a Republican-affiliated foundation, received particular scrutiny. Shortly before the ISOG group was dissolved, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice initiated a major effort to engage Iran and Syria in efforts to stabilize Iraq.
In June 2007 Cheney signed on as one of three national co-chairs of Fred Thompson's 2008 presidential campaign. The others were Spencer Abraham and George Allen. In a press release issued at the beginning of his campaign, Thompson said he was "very pleased to announce that former Senators Abraham and Allen, as well as Liz Cheney, will serve as co-chairs of my national leadership team". He added: "These distinguished individuals bring wise counsel and invaluable experience to my campaign leadership team, and they will play a critical role in helping spread my consistent conservative message across America." After Thompson dropped out of the race, Cheney announced on January 27, 2008, that she would work for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign as a senior foreign policy advisor.
Cheney has supported the use of torture. In 2009, she defended the use of waterboarding during the George W. Bush administration, comparing it to SERE training. In 2014, she criticized President Barack Obama after he said, "we tortured some folks". Also that year, she criticized Nancy Pelosi for calling out her father for his support of using torture.
Cheney is the elder daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and Second Lady Lynne Cheney. She held several positions in the U.S. State Department during the George W. Bush administration, notably as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and Coordinator for Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiatives. She promoted regime change in Iran while chairing the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group with Elliott Abrams. In 2009 Cheney and Bill Kristol founded Keep America Safe, a nonprofit organization concerned with national security issues, which advocated the Bush–Cheney administration's positions. She was a candidate for the 2014 election to the U.S. Senate in Wyoming, challenging three-term incumbent Mike Enzi, before withdrawing from the race. In the House of Representatives, she holds the seat her father held from 1979 to 1989.
In 2009, Cheney gave the keynote address at a dinner hosted by the Center for Security Policy, a conspiracy-oriented SPLC-designated hate group led by Frank Gaffney.
In 2009, Cheney refused to denounce adherents of Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories (birtherism) on the Larry King Live show. She said that the birtherism movement exists because "people are uncomfortable with a president who is reluctant to defend the nation overseas".
In October 2009, Liz Cheney, William Kristol, and Deborah Burlingame launched, as board members, the nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization Keep America Safe. The group's stated purpose is to "provide information for concerned Americans about critical national security issues". It drew strong criticism from conservative lawyers, many of whom had worked for the Bush administration, after its campaign against "The Al Qaeda 7", seven Justice Department lawyers in the Obama administration who previously had worked as defense lawyers for Guantanamo detainees. Shortly after, all information about the organization disappeared from the Internet.
In January 2012, Cheney was hired as a contributor for Fox News. She guest-hosted programs such as Hannity and Fox News Sunday. The network terminated her contract in July 2013 after she announced her intention to mount a 2014 bid for the Senate in Wyoming.
In 2013, during her Senate bid, Cheney announced her opposition to same-sex marriage. This caused a public falling-out with her sister Mary Cheney, who wrote in a Facebook post, "Either [y]ou think all families should be treated equally or you don't. Liz's position is to treat my family as second class citizens." Mary announced she would not support Liz's 2014 Senate candidacy. The family spat becoming a focus of media attention was cited as one of the reasons Cheney ended her Senate campaign.
In 2015, Cheney and her father expressed opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, saying that it would "lead to a nuclear-armed Iran". On June 21, 2019, after Trump called off military strikes against Iran for allegedly downing an American drone, Cheney compared Trump not attacking Iran to Barack Obama not attacking Syria in 2013. On September 18, 2019, she called for the United States to consider a "proportional military response" against Iran after it was attacking oil bases in the Saudi regions of Abqaiq and Khurais.
Cheney's campaign was marred by criticism from her championing of "hawkish" foreign policy positions to a public spat with her sister over her opposition to same-sex marriage. Enzi's continuing popularity made it difficult for Cheney to make inroads with Wyoming Republicans. On January 6, 2014, Cheney announced her withdrawal from the race, citing family health issues.
After incumbent Cynthia Lummis announced her retirement in the fall of 2015, Cheney announced she was considering running for her seat in 2016. On February 1, 2016, Cheney announced her candidacy for Wyoming's House seat. She was widely considered the front-runner, and a poll commissioned by the Casper Star-Tribune and Wyoming PBS showed her leading in the Republican primary – the real contest in this heavily Republican state. Russian-American oil tycoon Simon Kukes contributed to her campaign. She was elected with over 60% of the vote.
Cheney was sworn into office on January 3, 2017. Donald Trump became president that same month, and an analysis by FiveThirtyEight found Cheney supported Trump's position in 92.9% of House votes.
In 2018, when U.S. Senator John McCain criticized CIA nominee Gina Haspel, Cheney again defended the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, saying that they "saved lives, prevented attacks, and produced intel that led to Osama bin Laden". Cheney's remarks were criticized by Meghan McCain, who responded that her father "doesn't need torture explained to him".
From 2017 to 2021, Cheney voted in line with Trump's position around 93% of the time, supporting him more consistently in House votes than many House Republican members, even his former chief of staff Mark Meadows. In 2019, according to the New York Times, Cheney publicly feuded with Rand Paul over who was "Trumpier". According to The Atlantic, she was a "loyal Trumpist" and helped build "the party of Trump" at that time.
In May 2019, Cheney said that Peter Strzok and another FBI agent who sent personal text messages where they disparaged various politicians (including Trump) sounded as if they were planning a "coup" and may be guilty of "treason".
In June 2019, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compared the holding centers for illegal immigrants at the Mexico–United States border to "concentration camps". Cheney criticized her words, saying they showed "disrespect" for Holocaust victims.
Speaking as chairwoman at a House Republican Conference in August 2019, Cheney said that the successful litigation (Crow Tribe et al v. Zinke) by Native tribes and environmentalists to return the grizzly bear in Greater Yellowstone to the Endangered Species Act "was not based on science or facts" but motivated by plaintiffs' "intent on destroying our Western way of life". Her statements drew comments from indigenous tribal nations and environmentalists. Tribal nations hold the grizzly sacred, and environmentalists have voiced concerns about trophy hunts, livestock and logging interests, and the gas, coal, and oil extraction industries.
At a House Republican Conference in July 2020, some Republicans, such as Jim Jordan of Ohio and Andy Biggs of Arizona, criticized Cheney for defending Dr. Fauci amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and for previously endorsing Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie's primary opponent.
In September 2020, Cheney asked the Justice Department to investigate environmental groups such as the NRDC, Sea Change and the Sierra Club, saying that "robust political and judicial activism – combined with the fact that these groups often espouse views that align with those of our adversaries – makes it all the more critical that the Department is aware of any potential foreign influence within or targeting these groups. I urge the Department to investigate Chinese and Russian attempts to influence environmental and energy policy in the United States".
On February 4, 2022, the Republican National Committee called the events of January 6, 2021, "legitimate political discourse" and overwhelmingly voted to censure Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger by voice vote for taking part in the House investigation of the Capitol assault.
On January 12, 2021, following the 2021 United States Capitol attack during the certification process for President-elect Joe Biden, Cheney announced she would vote to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the attack. At a rally just before the attack, Trump told the mob of insurrectionists to "get rid of" Cheney, and the mob then attacked the Capitol while chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" and trying to find lawmakers. Cheney said that Trump "lit the flame" of the riot and did nothing to stop it. Saying, "there has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath", she announced her support for impeachment. Nine other Republicans joined her in doing so on January 13. She was then the third-ranking Republican in the House. Jim Jordan (one of 139 House members, and 8 senators, who voted for—or supported—the objections to the Electoral College count) called for her removal from Republican Party leadership. Andy Biggs took offense specifically with the wording of Cheney's remark, saying: "She puts out a statement saying that what this president did is maybe one of the most heinous things in the history of the US presidency. Her words were used over and over again when the Democrats were making their speeches on the floor of the House. And they will be used again when the Senate opens up another bogus trial in the Senate. That is what the problem is."
Cheney supported the second impeachment of Donald Trump for his role in the 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol. Because of her stance on the Capitol riot, her impeachment vote and opposition to Trump's false stolen-election narrative, pro-Trump Freedom Caucus members of the House Republican Conference attempted to remove her from party leadership in February 2021. That effort failed, and Cheney remained conference chair until mid-May, when pro-Trump members of the House again pushed for her removal. With House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy supporting the effort, Cheney was removed from her position. After her battles with Republican leadership, Cheney received death threats, leading her to spend $58,000 on a private security detail. She has said that she intends to be "the leader, one of the leaders, in a fight to help to restore our party" and that she may be interested in a future presidential run. In July 2021, Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Cheney to the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. Two months later, she was made vice chair of the committee. After the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Cheney criticized what she called the "Putin wing" of the Republican Party.
Trump supporters were angered by Cheney's vote to impeach. On February 3, 2021, the House Republican Conference held a closed-door, secret-ballot vote on whether to remove her from her position in the Republican House leadership. She held her position by a 145–61 vote, with one member voting present. After the vote, Cheney said, "we're not going to be divided and that we're not going to be in a situation where people can pick off any member of leadership". On February 6, the Wyoming Republican Party censured Cheney for her vote to impeach Trump. Cheney responded, "My vote to impeach was compelled by the oath I swore to the Constitution. Wyoming citizens know that this oath does not bend or yield to politics or partisanship. I will always fight for Wyoming values and stand up for our Western way of life." She rejected the Wyoming party's demands that she step down and noted the censure incorrectly asserted that the Capitol attack was instigated by Antifa and Black Lives Matter.
In March 2021 former Republican speaker Paul Ryan announced his support for Cheney. Salon wrote that although Cheney is "arch-conservative", she is "now considered too liberal for some GOP extremists". Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said "Liz Cheney is a solid conservative Republican" who "just stood up and told the truth" in May 2021.
Cheney raised the possibility of a criminal investigation of Trump for provoking violence and said he "does not have a role as a leader of our party going forward". In April 2021, she said she would not vote for him if he were the Republican nominee for president in 2024. In May 2021, she said: "I will do everything I can to ensure that [Trump] never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office" and "we cannot let the former president drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy."
In May 2021, Cheney said that she intends to be "the leader, one of the leaders, in a fight to help to restore our party". In an interview on ABC News's This Week, she refused to rule out a presidential bid; this prompted media speculation about her interest in a presidential run in 2024.
In response to rising calls from House Republicans for her to be removed from her position as House Republican Conference chair after her ongoing criticism of Trump, Cheney wrote an opinion article, "The GOP is at a turning point. History is watching us", published in The Washington Post on May 5, 2021. In it, she reiterated her positions on adhering to the principles of the U.S. Constitution, upholding the law, and defending "the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process". Senator Joni Ernst criticized the GOP's efforts to remove Cheney from party leadership, comparing it to cancel culture.
Cheney was formally removed by voice vote at a closed-door House Republican Conference meeting on May 12, 2021, and was replaced by Elise Stefanik. Five GOP representatives requested a recorded vote, but McCarthy chose to decide the matter by voice vote. As it was a voice vote conducted behind closed doors, it was unclear which lawmakers supported her ouster.
In June 2021, Cheney joined the board of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation.
On June 17, 2021, Cheney was one of 160 House Republicans to vote against repealing the 2002 AUMF, which granted the Bush administration the authority to wage war with Iraq. She said that repealing the resolution "would send a message of weakness to our adversaries and allies alike". Cheney's vote was criticized by Jack Butler of the National Review.
On September 26, 2021, during an interview with Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes, Cheney expressed regret for not supporting same-sex marriage. She was one of 47 Republicans to vote for the Respect for Marriage Act of 2022, which would codify same-sex marriage into federal law, and passed the House, 267-157.
On September 26, 2021, during an interview with Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes, Cheney reaffirmed her support for waterboarding, as well as stating that it is not torture.
On October 21, 2021, Cheney was one of nine House Republicans who voted to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress.
On November 13, 2021, the Wyoming GOP Central Committee voted 31–29 to no longer recognize Cheney as a member of the party. The resolution reiterated the general complaint for which it had censured her the previous February, saying that Cheney had never provided "quantifiable and or undisputed evidence" for why she had voted in favor of impeachment. There had been similar votes by two Wyoming counties three months earlier to remove her from the party.
On April 22, 2022, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation named Cheney a Profile in Courage Award recipient for "defending democracy". The foundation said that Cheney had been a "consistent and courageous voice in defense of democracy" and that she had "refused to take the politically expedient course that most of her party embraced." The award was presented in person on May 22.