Oath and Honor - Critical summary review - Liz Cheney

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Oath and Honor - critical summary review

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Biographies & Memoirs

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.

ISBN: 0316572063

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Critical summary review

"Oath and Honor" is a memoir portraying the courageous journey of Congresswoman Liz Cheney as she confronts the challenges posed to American democracy. It vividly recounts her battles against efforts to undermine democratic principles, particularly in the aftermath of the January 6th insurgency and during her vocal opposition to former President Donald Trump. 

The book offers a raw and intimate portrayal of Cheney's experiences, from her upbringing as the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney to her career in the State Department and the House of Representatives. It details her unwavering commitment to truth and integrity despite facing backlash and attacks from within her own party.

Through personal anecdotes and reflections, Cheney steers through the challenges of Washington politics, highlighting the corrosive effects of partisanship and the importance of standing up for one's principles. She stresses the need for citizens to engage in defending democracy and actively protecting its core values.

The aftermath of Trump's election loss

In the opening chapters, Liz Cheney, a Republican member of Congress, provides a detailed account of the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, mainly focusing on the actions and reactions of Donald Trump and his allies. The excerpt begins with Cheney recounting conversations with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy immediately following the election, where Trump's initial refusal to accept defeat is highlighted through his tweets and claims of voter fraud.

Cheney explores Trump's deliberate creation of a "red mirage" by encouraging in-person voting over mail-in ballots, despite being informed of the likelihood of an initial lead followed by a shift as mail-in votes were counted. She exposes Trump's false claims of widespread fraud, including his assertions about "ballot dumps," which were known to be routine aspects of the vote-counting process.

Cheney discusses the growing concern among Republicans as Trump and his allies refused to accept the election outcome, with some suggesting unprecedented actions such as having state legislatures appoint electors regardless of the popular vote. She highlights the dissonance between Trump's public assertions and the private acknowledgments by his campaign leadership that he had lost.

The narrative then shifts to the surreal press conference held by Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a seemingly inappropriate location, coinciding with the announcement of Joe Biden's victory. Cheney expresses her disbelief at the spectacle and reflects on the fall from grace of Giuliani, who was once celebrated for his leadership during 9/11.

Furthermore, Cheney discusses Trump's concerning personnel changes at the Pentagon following his election loss, including the firing of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and the appointment of inexperienced loyalists to key positions. She underscores the potential risks associated with such moves during a presidential transition period and raises questions about Trump's intentions regarding the peaceful power transfer to Joe Biden.

Battle for truth in the GOP

Cheney begins by recounting internal party dynamics, including rumors of challenges to the House Republican leadership. She reflects on her interactions with the Freedom Caucus and her decision not to join due to concerns about their approach to voting discipline and their hypersensitivity to criticism of former President Donald Trump.

She goes into a deep analysis of the post-election period, marked by Trump's firing of Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who had affirmed the integrity of the election. 

Cheney describes the press conference held by Trump's legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, where baseless claims of widespread voter fraud were made. Despite lacking evidence, these claims were embraced by many Americans, leading to widespread belief in false narratives about the election. Cheney outlines her response to these events, issuing a statement calling Trump to either produce evidence of fraud or respect the electoral process. Despite internal agreement between the Trump campaign and the White House regarding the lack of evidence, Cheney faces backlash from constituents and party members who accuse her of betraying Trump and Wyoming. 

She discloses a large spread of conspiracy theories and misinformation, including baseless claims about Chief Justice John Roberts running a child sex-trafficking ring. Cheney expresses concern about the erosion of truth and the dangerous consequences of such misinformation, illustrated by Representative Louie Gohmert's threats of violence and attempts to undermine the electoral process. 

Throughout the chapter, Cheney stresses the importance of upholding the rule of law, respecting the sanctity of elections, and combating disinformation, even when facing backlash from within her party. She portrays herself as standing up for the principles of democracy and constitutional governance in the face of falsehoods and threats to American democracy.

The vulnerability of democracy and the necessity of preserving legal norms amid unique trials

Cheney explores the legal battles that ensued following the election, with Trump and his legal team initiating over 60 lawsuits in an attempt to challenge the results. Despite repeated assertions of widespread fraud, courts consistently ruled against Trump due to a lack of evidence, even with Republican-appointed judges rejecting his claims. The narrative also points out the culminating role played by key figures such as former Attorney General Bill Barr, whose statement refuting allegations of election fraud further fueled tensions within the administration. 

Trump's persistent dissemination of false claims and his efforts to pressure state officials and influence legislators created a climate of uncertainty and division. Cheney sheds light on the internal conflicts within the Republican Party as members grappled with whether to support Trump's baseless allegations or uphold the integrity of the electoral process. Despite growing dissent, Trump continued to escalate his rhetoric, refusing to accept the election outcome and endorsing actions that threatened to undermine democratic norms. The narrative reaches its climax with the events leading up to January 6th, as Trump's call for supporters to converge on Washington, D.C., raised alarm bells about potential disruptions to the certification of the election results. 

Cheney recounts tense meetings at the White House, where discussions veered into dangerous territory, suggesting deploying the military to overturn the election. As tensions mounted, Cheney reflected on her efforts to alert Republican leaders to the looming threat of violence and the erratic behavior exhibited by Trump. Despite bipartisan attempts to mitigate the crisis, concerns persisted over the implications of Trump's actions for the future of democracy in America.

Commitment to constitutional and democratic values despite intra-party pressure

Cheney emphasizes the significance of her role as House Republican Conference Chair during a tumultuous time in American politics, right after the 2020 presidential election. She explains how Donald Trump and his supporters filed many lawsuits claiming fraud in the election, but courts repeatedly rejected these claims. Cheney stresses the duty of elected officials to prioritize the Constitution over everything else, reminding them of the framers' intentions to establish a robust system protecting liberty.

As January 6, 2021, approached, Cheney felt it necessary to clarify Congress's role in counting electoral votes. She and others compiled a memo stating that Congress's job was merely to count the votes, not overturn them. There were concerns about potential threats leading up to January 6, including worries that Trump might try extreme measures to stay in power. To counter this, Cheney helped organize a statement from former secretaries of defense affirming the military's non-involvement in election disputes and urging a peaceful transition of power. Cheney then describes a call with House Republicans where she emphasized the constitutional duty to count electoral votes. However, she faced resistance, especially from Kevin McCarthy, who avoided taking a clear stance. New members were pressured to object to the votes despite Cheney and others warning against it. In the Senate, Ted Cruz and others planned to object to electors without evidence of fraud, which Cheney criticized as unconstitutional. 

She also discusses tragic events, like the deaths of Luke Letlow and Tommy Raskin, and concerns about security on January 6. Despite revelations of Trump's attempts to pressure officials like Georgia's Secretary of State, McCarthy supported objections to electoral votes. Cheney expresses disappointment in his lack of principle. She also mentions interactions with Trump's team and conservative analysts who recognized the seriousness of the situation. Throughout these chapters, Cheney shows her dedication to constitutional principles and democratic norms, even when faced with pressure and disagreement within her party.

Exposing Trump's electoral fraud scheme

In a detailed account, Liz confidently exposes the deceptive and unlawful strategies concocted by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Starting with Jenna Ellis's false claims of "dueling slates of electors" and Mike Pence's supposed role in rejecting electoral votes, Cheney unveils a concerted effort to subvert the democratic process. 

Cheney describes how Trump's team, despite lacking evidence, planned to manipulate Pence's position as president of the Senate to disregard certified electoral votes. She highlights the alarming disregard for constitutional principles and the rule of law evident in their scheme. Despite clear legal rulings against Trump's claims of fraud, Cheney reveals how his team persisted in their efforts to undermine the election outcome. She also exposes internal Republican debates, where some members, led by Mike Johnson, advocated for objections to electoral votes based on unfounded allegations of election irregularities. Others, like Chip Roy and Dan Crenshaw, staunchly opposed these objections, emphasizing the constitutional duty to uphold the election results. 

As tensions mounted, Cheney sought guidance from congressional experts to counter the impending chaos. She recalls reaching out to Senate leader Mitch McConnell for joint planning to ensure adherence to constitutional norms. The narrative intensifies as Cheney recounts the eve of January 6, with House Republicans deeply divided over whether to support objections. Concerns about potential violence and the need for security measures underscore the volatile atmosphere leading up to the joint session of Congress. 

In the face of threats and coercion from Trump and his allies, Cheney paints a picture of a party torn between loyalty to Trump and fidelity to the Constitution. The looming showdown on January 6 emerges as a pivotal moment in American democracy, with Cheney and others grappling with the repercussions of Trump's relentless efforts to cling to power through illegitimate means.

Protecting the Republic: Impeaching Trump for his actions

Cheney points out that the 2020 election was unusual because of President Donald Trump's baseless claims of election fraud and his encouragement of his supporters to protest in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021. Cheney worries about security threats before January 6 and hires private security because of her concerns. Despite pressure from Trump and potential dangers, she sticks to her duty as a member of Congress to uphold the Constitution. 

On January 6, Cheney sees fellow Republican lawmakers objecting to electoral votes symbolically, even though these objections are based on false claims. She finds it ironic that some lawmakers who question the legitimacy of the election had previously accepted the legitimacy of their election victories. During the joint session, Cheney watches the debate over objections to Arizona's electoral votes. Some Republican colleagues repeat debunked claims of election fraud. Meanwhile, she notices the situation outside the Capitol escalating, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi being evacuated. 

Cheney questions the motives of specific colleagues, especially Lauren Boebert, who seems to be in communication with people outside the building. Cheney plans to speak against the objections, but chaos erupts before she can, with a violent mob breaking into the Capitol. Despite the danger, Cheney remains committed to upholding the Constitution and facing the challenges posed by the events of January 6 and the divisions within her party. Later, Cheney recounts her experience during the Capitol riot, describing the tension in the chamber as lawmakers realize they are threatened. She expresses shock and anger at the breach of the Capitol, especially when she learns a Confederate flag was seen inside. 

As chaos unfolds, Cheney describes efforts to maintain order and the increasing danger as the mob approaches. Lawmakers and Capitol Police prepare to defend themselves as rioters try to breach the chamber doors. Cheney emphasizes President Trump's failure to stop the violence despite pleas from his staff. Throughout the ordeal, Cheney reflects on the need to hold those responsible accountable and asserts that Trump's actions were impeachable offenses. She believes Trump must be impeached and removed from office to protect the republic. 

In another part, Cheney talks about the events from a personal perspective, describing the chaos as the mob targets Vice President Mike Pence. She highlights how Trump's tweets further fueled the violence and recounts her efforts to restore order and complete the electoral vote count with Democratic leaders. Cheney condemns the actions of the rioters and Trump's role in inciting the violence. She reflects on bipartisan efforts to reconvene and complete the vote count despite opposition from some Republican colleagues. Cheney also praises the bravery of law enforcement officers and reaffirms her commitment to defending democracy and the rule of law.

Final notes

In "Oath and Honor," Liz Cheney shares a gripping account of the aftermath of the January 6th attack on the Capitol, focusing on the climax events such as Congressional reactions, Trump's second impeachment, and the loss of Cheney's leadership position for opposing Trump. Cheney gives us insights into the erosion of political integrity and the systematic attempts by Trump to subvert democracy. Despite her conservative stance, Cheney maintains a balanced narrative supported by evidence and logical arguments. Through her firsthand experiences and clear prose, she highlights the importance of upholding the Constitution and the rule of law. 

"Oath and Honor" serves as a significant reminder of the responsibilities of elected officials and the threats to democracy, making it essential reading for individuals across the political spectrum. Despite ideological differences, Cheney's unwavering commitment to principles and integrity shines through, prompting reflection on the qualities needed in political leaders. Ultimately, "Oath and Honor" serves as a rallying cry for citizens to uphold their constitutional responsibilities and work towards a better future for the nation. It challenges readers to confront the challenges facing American democracy and inspires them to take action in defense of its principles.

While the book is inherently political, it transcends partisan lines, offering a message of hope and resilience for readers across the political spectrum. Cheney's clear and engaging writing style and ability to articulate complex issues make the book accessible to a broad audience interested in American politics and the future of democracy.

12min tip

If you're fascinated by the events, incidents, or happenings in American history and the often overlooked figures who shaped it, we highly recommend diving into "Samuel Adams: A Life" by Ira Stoll.

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Who wrote the book?

American attorney and politician, served Wyoming's at-large congressional district from 2017 to 2023. Notable for her opposition to Donald Trump, Cheney chaired the House Republican Conference. With a background in the State Department and co-founding Keep America Safe, she's a leading co... (Read more)

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