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Rand Paul sides with Liz Cheney opponent at Wyoming event

March 8, 2022 GMT
Republican U.S. House candidate Harriet Hageman talks to a supporter at a campaign event, Monday, March 7, 2022, in Cheyenne, Wyo. Hageman, an attorney, is running against Wyoming U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a fellow Republican. (AP Photo/Mead Gruver)
Republican U.S. House candidate Harriet Hageman talks to a supporter at a campaign event, Monday, March 7, 2022, in Cheyenne, Wyo. Hageman, an attorney, is running against Wyoming U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a fellow Republican. (AP Photo/Mead Gruver)
Republican U.S. House candidate Harriet Hageman talks to a supporter at a campaign event, Monday, March 7, 2022, in Cheyenne, Wyo. Hageman, an attorney, is running against Wyoming U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a fellow Republican. (AP Photo/Mead Gruver)
Republican U.S. House candidate Harriet Hageman talks to a supporter at a campaign event, Monday, March 7, 2022, in Cheyenne, Wyo. Hageman, an attorney, is running against Wyoming U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a fellow Republican. (AP Photo/Mead Gruver)
Republican U.S. House candidate Harriet Hageman talks to a supporter at a campaign event, Monday, March 7, 2022, in Cheyenne, Wyo. Hageman, an attorney, is running against Wyoming U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a fellow Republican. (AP Photo/Mead Gruver)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The committee investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection is an “abomination” that should be disbanded, Sen. Rand Paul said Monday in support of a Rep. Liz Cheney primary challenger.

“This isn’t sort of a loyalty test. This is about abuse of power,” the Republican from Kentucky said at a campaign event for Harriet Hageman.

Cheney, Wyoming’s lone representative in the U.S. House and the elder daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, responded by accusing Paul and Hageman of trying to divert attention from Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Cheney’s vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump for the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, and her role as one of two Republicans on the nine-member House committee investigating it, have made her a target within her own party. A Cheyenne agriculture and natural resources attorney, Hageman is among three Republicans running against Cheney and is the one endorsed by Trump.

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Trump and associates engaged in a “criminal conspiracy” to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory, the commission said in court filings last week.

Talking to reporters after her event, Hageman accused the committee of overreach.

“They’re acting as prosecutor, judge and jury and they are using the full name of the federal government to go against and investigate and attempt to persecute people from all over the United States,” Hageman said.

The committee is “acting in a nonpartisan manner” to investigate the most serious attack on the Capitol in more than 200 years, countered Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler by email.

“It does seem that now that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is committing atrocities against the free people of Ukraine, Mr. Paul and Ms. Hageman are trying to change the subject and put their dangerous isolationism on the back burner,” Adler said.

Criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the presidential adviser on the COVID-19 pandemic, dominated the event and drew the most applause from the crowd of about 100 people at a Cheyenne hotel.

Asked by a reporter after the gathering how she would do better than Cheney — a former State Department official who often weighs in on foreign policy — on international affairs, Hageman called for the U.S. to become more energy independent and for Congress to become more involved in military assistance for Ukraine.

“This can’t just be a unilateral decision by the president,” Hageman said.

Wyoming’s Republican and Democratic primaries will be Aug. 16. Two other Republicans are running against Cheney: state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, of Cheyenne, and retired Army Col. Denton Knapp.

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Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver