Friday, September 30

Press: Why I sent a check to Liz Cheney

In my 40 years as a political activist – voter, volunteer, campaign manager, statewide candidate and chair of the California Democratic Party – it’s the toughest decision I’ve ever made. I’d considered it for a long time, but the latest news from Mar-a-Lago made me finally do it. Even though I know she’s going to lose tonight’s Wyoming Republican primary (the latest polls showing her 30 points behind), I went online and made a contribution to Rep. Liz Cheney’s reelection campaign.  

It was not former President Trump’s reaction to the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago that triggered my reaction. We’ve seen this comic opera from him so many times we could have written the script ourselves: Poor me. I did nothing wrong. No president has ever been treated so badly. It’s nothing but a political witch hunt. And, without a stitch of evidence: What about document stealer Barack Hussein Obama?  

No, Trump’s response was ever so pathetic and predictable. What was far more shocking, and what prompted me to act, was the cowardly and disgusting way leading Republicans immediately rallied behind him. Without even knowing what the FBI was searching for, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) threatened Attorney General Merrick Garland with congressional retaliation. Following his lead, and absent any criticism from McCarthy, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) compared the FBI to East German Stasi officers, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) called for “defunding” the FBI and impeaching Garland, and Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said it was time to “abolish the FBI and start over.”  

Nationwide, ignoring that this is just one of several fronts on which Trump is in serious legal hot water these days, Republicans gleefully seized on what they perceived as a winning political issue. “It should now be a central plank of the Republican platform in both 2022 and 2024 that we will abolish the FBI, clean out the agency from top to bottom, and rebuild it from the ground up,” declared conservative political provocateur Dinesh D’Souza, pardoned by Trump in 2018 after being convicted in 2014 of breaking campaign finance laws.  

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The next day, as if on cue, an armed Trump supporter attempted to storm the FBI’s field office in Cincinnati. You must admit, that’s quite a turn-around for Republicans, who have proudly called themselves the “law and order party” ever since the days of Richard Nixon. Now, in blind allegiance to Trump, many Republicans have pivoted from defending brave men and women on the thin blue line to attacking them. Twelve GOP members of Congress even voted to deny a Congressional Gold Medal to officers of the Capitol Police who defended them from the armed mob on Jan. 6.  

And this is just the latest example of Republican leaders abandoning everything they once stood for, and most Americans still do. In this new lawless Trump Republican Party, anything goes. Literally, anything goes. It’s OK to lie. It’s OK to bribe the president of another country over congressionally-approved military aid. It’s OK to incite an armed mob to attack the U.S. Capitol. It’s OK to lead a coup against the United States. It’s OK to allegedly violate the Espionage Act and steal top secret documents.  

What’s astounding is that, in the middle of this madness, only one Republican running for reelection – only one – has the courage to speak out against Donald Trump and to speak up for those values we grew up with and still believe in — the values that make America great. We are all in her debt.  

That’s why I sent a check to Liz Cheney: not so much because I believe in Liz Cheney, but because I still believe in America.  

Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is the author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”  

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