- Former President Trump endorsed Hageman because Cheney is insufficiently loyal to him.
- In 2016, Hageman said Trump was "racist and xenophobic" and plotted to deny him the GOP nomination.
- Hageman says she blames "the lies the Democrats and Liz Cheney's friends in the media were telling."
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Harriet Hageman, a former RNC official from Wyoming endorsed by former President Donald Trump to run against Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, was once part of an effort to deny Trump the nomination at the 2016 Republican convention.
The New York Times reported on Monday that Hageman believed Trump was a weak candidate who had become the nominee only through the support of Democrats voting in Republican primaries. She also said the former President was "somebody who is racist and xenophobic."
Hageman, now running with Trump's endorsement in a bid to unseat Cheney, was also once close to the congresswoman herself, serving as an advisor for Cheney's aborted 2014 Senate bid.
The Times reported that Hageman participated in an effort to "unbind" delegates at the 2016 convention via a "conscience provision," freeing them to vote for Ted Cruz rather than Trump, the eventual nominee.
"Vote your conscience," Cruz famously declared in his speech at the 2016 convention, receiving a mixture of cheers and booing.
But in a statement to the Times, Hageman ultimately blamed Cheney for her previous actions.
"I heard and believed the lies the Democrats and Liz Cheney's friends in the media were telling at the time, but that is ancient history as I quickly realized that their allegations against President Trump were untrue," she told the New York Times. "He was the greatest president of my lifetime, and I am proud to have been able to renominate him in 2020. And I'm proud to strongly support him today."
But Cheney backed Trump in 2016, doubling down on her support for him even after the emergence of the "Access Hollywood" tape in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women.
"Trump's comments were appalling. Hillary's actions have been far worse," she told Wyoming-based K2 radio that year. "I will be voting for Donald Trump. A vote for anyone other than Trump is a vote for Hillary."
But since then, Cheney has become among the most prominent anti-Trump Republicans in the country. After she voted to impeach the president for inciting an insurrection following the January 6 assault on the US Capitol, she has continued to speak out publicly about her belief that Trump poses a threat to democracy.
House Republicans eventually booted her from leadership over it, and Trump himself is now backing Hageman in a bid to remove Cheney from Congress altogether.
"It's going to be the most important House race in the country in 2022," Cheney said in a "60 Minutes" interview on Sunday.