Former Vice President Dick Cheney visited the House floor on Thursday and
patiently waited to greet more than a dozen members waiting to shake his
They were all Democrats.
The man who was once portrayed by the Democratic Party as the dark villain
of the Bush administration, responsible for failed wars, ruinous energy
policies and torturing America’s enemies in a betrayal of the nation’s
values has found common ground with his onetime foes over Jan. 6.
Cheney and with his daughter Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming are among the few
Republicans who have joined Democrats in condemning last year’s attack on
the Capitol as an assault on Democracy and blaming former President Donald
Trump for that deadly day.
They were the only two Republicans on the House floor Thursday for an
event to mark the anniversary of the attack, but they were hardly alone.
One by one, Democrats put aside their fierce and lasting policy divides
with the Cheneys to thank them for condemning the attack and Trump’s
continued effort to undermine the 2020 presidential election results with
his false claims of fraud.
Ahead of the chamber’s noon session, Rep. Adam Schiff huddled at length
with the two Cheneys — Liz is one of two Republicans who serve alongside
the California Democrat on the committee investigating Jan. 6. Schiff, who
knows what it’s like to be detested by the other party, told the former
vice president and onetime Wyoming congressman, “It’s good to see you
Following a brief moment of silence and remarks by Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
D-Calif., several Democratic congresswomen embraced Liz Cheney. At several
points she introduced her colleagues who serve alongside her on the Jan. 6
committee, including Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., to the former vice
president by simply saying, “This is my father … This is dad.”
“It was great coming back. I think Liz is doing a hell of a job, and I’m
here to support her,” Cheney told reporters upon leaving the House floor.
Asked ?to reflect on Republican leaders’ decision not to show up on
Thursday to mark the anniversary of the attack, Cheney said he could no
longer recognize the party he helped lead as House minority whip and then
“It’s not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was
here for 10 years,” he said.
The exiling of the Cheneys by Republicans and the welcoming embrace they
have received from Democrats stands as one of the most stark examples of
the Republican Party’s transformation from the pro-big business, hawkish
military era of the past to one where fealty to Trump and his
nationalistic worldview drive the agenda.
Neither Cheney has moderated their positions on any number of conservative
issues they have held over the years, but their determination to take on
Trump and call out fellow Republicans is more than enough for Democrats.
Liz Cheney was in the chamber during the insurrection and became one of
the only House Republicans to pointedly blame Trump for instigating the
most violent attack on the Capitol since British forces set it on fire in
Her vote to impeach Trump and continued outspokenness angered many of her
GOP colleagues who remained aligned with Trump or feared blaming him for
the attack. That led to her being kicked out of her leadership spot as
conference chair in May after she said she would continue to speak out
against the former president.
When Dick Cheney left office in 2009, it was hard to imagine what would
cause him to be rejected by Republicans and embraced by Democrats.
During his time as vice president, his relationship with Democrats was
marked by bitter disagreements, particularly over the Iraq War, that often
went beyond policy disagreements and into questions of character and
In 2007, when Democrats took the House majority, Cheney had become such a
political boogeyman to liberals that more than two dozen House Democrats
co-sponsored a resolution of impeachment against the vice president for
his role in the Iraq War. House leaders had to maneuver to squelch debate
on the matter.
Pelosi and Cheney had an acrimonious relationship of their own.
Cheney said in 2007 that if Pelosi was successful at preventing a U.S.
troop increase in Iraq it would “validate the al-Qaida strategy.”
Pelosi demanded an apology, saying Cheney had questioned her patriotism.
He declined and said he didn’t question her patriotism, just her judgment.
Those tensions didn’t soften after Cheney left office, with Pelosi saying
in 2014 that the former vice president was responsible for the use of
torture during the Bush administration’s War on Terror as the Senate
debated whether to declassify a report on the subject.
“That’s what I believe,” she told CNN. “I think he’s proud of it.”
On Thursday, those old tensions were put aside as they focused on their
shared feelings about Jan. 6.
“Well, we were very honored by his being there,” said Pelosi, who held
Cheney’s hand when speaking to him on the floor earlier in the day. “He
has the right to be on the floor as a former member of the House, and I
was happy to welcome him back and to congratulate him on the courage of”
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., also applauded Cheney for his
daughter’s courage during a lengthier conversation in which both men were
overheard talking about other news of day such as testing frequently for
“I told him, thank you for being here,” he said. “What it reflects is the
great respect that we have for Liz Cheney. I mean, he’s her father, he was
the vice president, but I think you saw the why because, first of all, we
appreciated the fact that he’s here supporting his daughter in what is
otherwise a very significant minority position in the Republican Party,
which is, which is very sad.”
The former vice president’s embrace of Pelosi’s leadership on Jan. 6
matters is jarring for veterans of the Senate, where for eight years he
served as the president of that chamber and frequently visited with GOP
senators to plot strategy.
Back in 2004, at a time when Sen. Patrick Leahy and other Democrats
accused Cheney’s old company, Halliburton, of profiting off the Iraq War,
the Vermont Democrat approached the vice president on the Senate floor.
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“Hey Dick,” Leahy recalled saying in an interview Thursday, “why don’t you
talk to the Democratic side?”
Cheney wasn’t amused and responded with an epithet.
But like for many Democrats, Dick Cheney’s public support for his
daughter’s outspoken anti-Trump vows has softened Leahy’s feelings toward
the elder Cheney.
He said that the younger Cheney’s actions remind him of the stories he
heard when he first arrived in Washington in 1975.
“I’m very proud of Liz Cheney. And what I couldn’t help but think of is,
when I first came here, and hearing from, talking with Hugh Scott and
Barry Goldwater. One was the Republican leader, one was Mr. Conservative,
and how they had to go down and tell Richard Nixon, you have to leave,”
said Leahy, now third in line to the presidency as Senate president pro
tempore, noting the roles the two late GOP senators played in convincing
Nixon to resign as president.
“They thought it was a thing they had to do,” said Leahy, who watched Liz
Cheney’s media appearances Thursday morning. “And that’s what I was
thinking of, more than anything else.”
Cheney Shoots Man In Hunting Accident
Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion
during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter
in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.
Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin, was in stable
condition in the intensive care unit of a Corpus Christi hospital Sunday.
"He is stable and doing well. It was almost like he was spending time with
me in my living room," said hospital administrator Peter Banko, who
Banko didn't say why Whittington was in the intensive care unit.
The accident occurred Saturday at a ranch in south Texas where the vice
president and several companions were hunting quail. It was not reported
publicly by the vice president's office for nearly 24 hours, and then only
after it was reported locally by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times on its
Web site Sunday, CBS News correspondent Susan Roberts reports.
Katharine Armstrong, the ranch's owner, said Sunday that Cheney was using
a 28-gauge shotgun and that Whittington was about 30 yards away when he
was hit. CBS News correspondent Joie Chen reports Whittington, 78, was hit
in the cheek, neck and chest.