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Former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney discusses future of American democracy, Trump, Jan. 6 insurrection, foreign affairs

Cheney speaks at 103rd Ogden Memorial Lecture

Former Rep. Liz Cheney claimed that government institutions will not protect America from a second Donald Trump presidency.
Courtesy of Brown University
Former Rep. Liz Cheney claimed that government institutions will not protect America from a second Donald Trump presidency. Courtesy of Brown University

Liz Cheney — former U.S. representative for Wyoming’s at-large congressional district from 2017 to 2023 — addressed issues of democracy, Donald Trump’s influence on the Republican party, the Jan. 6 insurrection and the war in Israel and Palestine at the 103rd Stephen A. Ogden Jr. ’60 Memorial Lecture on International Affairs

From 2019 to 2021, Cheney was the chair of the House Republican Conference. She served as vice chair of the House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol. Cheney’s new memoir, “Oath and Honor,” details the events and her investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection. President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20 introduced the event and later led a Q&A.

Cheney began her lecture by speaking about her experience during the Presidential Election in 2000 — one of the closest elections in American history — when her father, Dick Cheney, ran alongside George W. Bush as his vice president. 

“When it was all over, Vice President Al Gore gave what I believe is one of the finest speeches in American political history,” Cheney said. She quoted Gore, saying, “our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country.” 

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“Too often we don’t stop and think about what it means to live in a nation characterized by the peaceful transfer of power,” Cheney added. She noted that throughout American history, each president has respected this process. 

“Every president has done that, until Donald Trump,” she said.

Trump is currently facing federal charges which allege that he worked to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

Cheney emphasized the danger of Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the peaceful transfer of presidential power as “something we’ve never faced before.” She highlighted his inaction on the day of the insurrection, claiming that he failed to protect those at the Capitol. 

Cheney said to the audience that Trump’s moves to delay proceedings in the criminal cases he is facing is an effort to “suppress the evidence” of his “indefensible” actions.

“We have an obligation to remember” that day, she added. “We have an obligation to tell the truth about what happened.” 

Cheney noted the hesitancy of many Republicans in Congress to oppose Trump in the aftermath of Jan. 6. She said that it is “incumbent upon all of us … to ensure that he never again is anywhere close to the Oval Office.”  

Cheney also addressed arguments proposed by conservatives that institutions will protect the country from any adverse actions Trump may take during a potential second term. In her view, Trump still has heavy influence in the American government even out of office. 

“He is controlling what the Republicans in the House and many of the Republicans in the Senate do on a daily basis,” she said. According to Cheney, Republicans in both chambers of Congress refused to pass critical bipartisan legislation that would improve border security and provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — because Trump “told them not to.”

Regarding the upcoming 2024 presidential election in November, Cheney urged the audience to “put partisanship aside.” 

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“Think about how important and how high the stakes are,” she said. We must “work above party to make sure that we defend our Constitution and this wonderful country.”

After her lecture, the event shifted to a question and answer session led by Paxson. 

Paxson began by asking Cheney about her first-hand experience being in the Capitol on Jan. 6. 

Cheney responded by describing the day’s events as “chilling.” 

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“I don’t remember being scared … I was very angry at my colleagues who had been pushing the lie,” she said, referencing the well-circulated idea that protestors in Washington, D.C. would be able to change the outcome of the 2020 election.

When asked about her role as vice chair of the Jan. 6 committee, Cheney emphasized the “non-partisan nature” of the committee’s work, adding that she was very proud of their efforts. 

“When we can get back to spending our time debating policy, we’ll know … we’re back on solid footing in our democracy,” she said. 

Cheney also addressed the future of the Republican party, speaking to the importance of a two party system that allows for debate through substantive discourse. She said that the Republican Party may have to “start over again” after the 2024 election, given her concern about the party being “hijacked by a cult of personality.”

Paxson asked Cheney about the effects of disinformation in the upcoming 2024 election, and Donald Trump’s efforts to manipulate facts to his advantage. 

“Donald Trump has tapped into severely real concerns that people have, and he’s betrayed them,” she said. “He’s made people think he will be a voice to them.” 

According to Cheney, it is critical to be very careful about information that is spread on social media, and to “live in the truth and speak up for the truth.”

Following her initial questions, Paxson pivoted to ask Cheney about her opinions on recent foreign policy concerns. 

“Any thoughts on prospects for peace in Israel-Gaza?” Paxson asked. 

Cheney noted her own support for Israel, stating that “there’s no context that justifies the slaughter that we saw on Oct. 7,” referencing Hamas’s attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and took an additional 250 hostage. At this remark, a portion of the audience broke into applause. 

In Israel’s military retaliation, over 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, many of them civilians. 

She also emphasized America’s obligation to address foreign security concerns, specifically in the Middle East and Russia. According to Cheney, it is crucial for America to defend its interests and not “look the other way.” She voiced her concerns that under another Trump presidency, we will experience “a real unraveling of the global world order that has … helped defend freedom since the end of World War II.” 

In response to a question from Paxson about Cheney’s future plans, Cheney said that she feels an obligation as a parent to ensure a democratic nation for future generations.

“I certainly wouldn’t rule out running for office again,” Cheney said.

To conclude the event, Paxson asked a question submitted by a student about how young people can respond to “anti-democracy” in America and what actionable steps can be taken to work “toward that course correction.” 

Cheney emphasized the importance of voting and the influence that young voters can have on elections. “We all have that power, and we have the obligation to fight to keep it,” she said.   

Oscar Low ’25 attended the event because of his interest in Cheney’s “anti-Trump stance,” despite her conservative politics. He said that it was fascinating to hear her speak about the importance of “preserving the framework of this country,” regardless of political differences. 

But, for Low, Cheney’s talk only “described the problem,” and did not “speak to the root of the problem.” He emphasized how misinformation in the media can influence voters. “People are being divided more and more, and I don’t think Liz Cheney really spoke to that,” he said.

Brooke Ury ’24 particularly appreciated Cheney’s eloquence in her lecture. “I have a lot of respect for Liz Cheney,” she said. “I think she’s a really important voice, considering how polarized everything is.” 


Sophia Wotman

Sophia Wotman is a Senior Staff Writer covering the Affinity & Activism beat under University News. She is a sophomore from Long Island, New York studying Political Science and Music with an interest in women’s rights. She is a jazz trumpet player, and you’ll often find her performing on campus and around Providence.



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