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Liz Cheney refuses to link Trump’s false election claims, GOP’s push for new voting restrictions

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) spoke to reporters on May 12 after the House Republican Conference voted to oust her as conference chair. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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For months, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has decried former president Donald Trump’s false claims of massive election fraud — a stance that cost her a leadership position in the House earlier this month.

But when pressed on Sunday about whether Trump’s falsehoods were the cause of Republican moves to pass restrictive new voting laws in dozens of states, Cheney disputed the suggestion.

“I think you have to look at the specifics of each one of those efforts,” Cheney said on “Axios on HBO,” arguing that some of the bills had been misrepresented.

How GOP-backed voting measures could create hurdles for tens of millions of voters

“If you look at the Georgia laws, for example, there’s been a lot that’s been said nationally about the Georgia voter laws that turns out not to be true,” she said, referring to the new restrictions that led to widespread backlash, including Major League Baseball pulling its All-Star Game from Atlanta.

Cheney’s exchange, which went viral on Twitter with more than 800,000 views, suggests the limits of her increasingly lonesome stance in the Republican Party in acknowledging Joe Biden won fairly and in demanding accountability for Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In the wake of Biden’s victory, Republicans in at least 43 states have moved to limit in-person, mail and Election Day voting through stricter ID rules and narrower eligibility requirements — moves that could make it more difficult for tens of millions of Americans to cast ballots. GOP lawmakers have justified the bills, The Washington Post reported, by noting that many conservatives no longer trust voting systems thanks to Trump’s false claims that the election was “stolen.”

Axios’s Jonathan Swan quizzed Cheney on that link in an interview that aired Sunday night.

“You don’t see any linkage between Donald Trump saying the election was stolen and then Republicans in all of these state legislatures rushing to put in place these restrictive voter laws?” he asked.

House Republicans oust Cheney for calling out Trump’s false election claims, minimize Jan. 6 attack on Capitol

As Cheney argued that the reasoning behind the laws was different in each state, Swan pushed back.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence after the election that this has happened,” Swan said, noting that Georgia’s GOP lieutenant governor said the legislation was driven by false claims made by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney.

“Everybody should want a situation and a system where people who ought to be able to vote and have the right to vote can vote, and people who, you know, don’t, shouldn’t,” Cheney said, suggesting tighter voter ID restrictions are justified.

But Swan pressed her for specifics on why such changes are needed, when virtually no serious voting problems were found in the states enacting the changes.

“What was the big problem in Georgia that needed to be solved by a new law? What was the big problem in Texas? What was the big problem in Florida?” Swan asked. “These laws are coming all around the states, and what are they solving for?”

Cheney again declined to get into specifics, saying, “I think you’ve got to look at each individual state law.”

“But you can’t divorce them from the context,” Swan said.

One week after it was signed into law, Georgia's Republican-led voting overhaul is facing backlash from a growing number of voting rights advocates. (Video: Mahlia Posey/The Washington Post)