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Liz Cheney tells Colorado graduates to 'stand in truth,' warns democracy is in peril

Former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., delivers the commencement address at Colorado College on Sunday in Colorado Springs, Colo. She urged the 2023 graduates to not compromise on the truth.
Jack Dempsey
/
AP
Former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., delivers the commencement address at Colorado College on Sunday in Colorado Springs, Colo. She urged the 2023 graduates to not compromise on the truth.

Former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney warnedgraduates of Colorado College that political dissent and freedoms cannot exist without stable democratic systems in America.

"We are living in a time of testing and challenge and peril for our democracy," Cheney, a 1988 graduate of Colorado College, said.

Cheney, a Republican wholost re-election to her Wyoming House seat last year, spoke about the Jan. 6 insurrection and repeated her past criticisms of former President Donald Trump. But she did not comment on her own political future, including a potential 2024 run for president.

"After the 2020 election and the attack of January 6th, my fellow Republicans wanted me to lie. They wanted me to say the 2020 election was stolen, the attack of January 6th wasn't a big deal, and Donald Trump wasn't dangerous," Cheney said Sunday in Colorado Springs, Colo. "I had to choose between lying and losing my position in House leadership."

Cheney emphasized the message of speaking truth, noting a Bible verse that was inscribed on a campus building that read: "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

"America cannot remain a free nation if we abandon the truth. So as you go out to change the world, resolve that you will stand in truth," she told the 2023 graduates.

She also urged them to remain politically active, and protect institutions of democracy. Cheney cited a recent report from The Washington Post that spotlighted a recent audio recording of Cleta Mitchell, a former Trump adviser. Mitchell, while presenting at a Republican National Committee retreat, said that the ease of voting on college campus polling locations posed a problem.

"Those who are trying to unravel the foundations of our republic, who are threatening the rule of law and the sanctity of our elections, know that they can't succeed if you vote," Cheney said. "So class of 2023, get out and vote."

Students turn their chairs away from Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney, as she delivers the commencement address at Colorado College.
Jack Dempsey / AP
/
AP
Students turn their chairs away from Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney, as she delivers the commencement address at Colorado College.

While Cheney's introduction to the stage was mostly met with applause, many graduates at the liberal arts college chose to protest her appearance by turning their chairs around during the speech. The Gazette, the local newspaper in Colorado Springs, reported that about half of the 450 graduates chose to turn their backs to Cheney.

Cheney's husband and two of their children are also graduates of the school.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.