The TAKE with Rick Klein
Rep. Liz Cheney’s own political future has lingered in the background of the House's Jan. 6 committee’s hearings, with jaw-dropping revelations about former President Donald Trump’s conduct that stand separate from but always related to what he and others might do next.
There’s no separating those efforts from here. With a speech at the Reagan Library in California on Wednesday night, followed by what’s likely to be her only primary debate in Wyoming on Thursday, Cheney is making clear that she views her choice to back impeachment, which she made at the end of the Trump presidency, to be the only viable path for the Republican Party.
“It has become clear that the efforts Donald Trump oversaw and engaged in were even more chilling and threatening than we imagined,” Cheney, R-Wyo., said Wednesday, as part of the Reagan Library’s “Time for Choosing” speaker series. “It is undeniable: The Republican Party cannot be both loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution.”
That sets up an extraordinary stretch of summer. The final public hearings of the Jan. 6 committee, expected in July, will be followed in August with a series of primaries where four GOP House members who voted for impeachment will face voters -- culminating with Cheney’s own race Aug. 16.
In an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, airing on “Good Morning America” Thursday and “This Week” on Sunday, Cheney is offering a vigorous defense of key witnesses who have appeared before the committee as well as hints about where the work goes next -- including the possibility of criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.
“What Cassidy Hutchinson did was an unbelievable example of bravery and of courage and patriotism in the face of real pressure,” Cheney told Karl.
The pressures will build from here, on Hutchinson and other potential witnesses as well as on Cheney herself. However these next few weeks play out, Cheney is signaling that she won’t view her work as done.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
It's the closing of one chapter and the opening of another for the nation's highest court.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will formally step down from the bench at noon on Thursday, closing out a nearly three-decade tenure and making way for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to take her historic place alongside the eight other justices.
"It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and rule of law," Breyer wrote in his resignation letter.
According to ABC News' Devin Dwyer, Jackson will take two oaths in a live-streamed swearing-in at the court, with Chief Justice John Roberts slated to administer the constitutional oath and Breyer, for whom Jackson once clerked, delivering the judicial oath. Upon the ceremony's completion, Jackson will be the first Black woman on the court and her addition will mark the first time -- ever -- that four women have been on the bench together.
Her swearing-in comes as many question the credibility of the court and its conservative majority in the wake of the justices' five-to-four decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Though Jackson's arrival is not expected to change the ideological balance of the court, there are many eager to see how her influence impacts decisions yet to come in cases related to affirmative action in college admissions and the Voting Rights Act.
The TIP with Alisa Wiersema
Independent campaign bids usually present an insurmountable uphill battle for candidates. But as of Wednesday, Republican attorney John Wood has announced he is confident that running as an independent will lead to his winning Missouri's Senate race. Wood, a former senior investigator for the Jan. 6 committee, told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he's "not looking to be a spoiler. I'm in this race to win it."
"I think that there is a coalition of common-sense voters that can be put together," he added.
The high-profile attorney is basing his candidacy on the prediction that polarizing and once-disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens will win the state's Aug. 2 primary as the Republican nominee. Wood is betting Greitens' nomination will lead enough conservative voters to search for an alternate option in the general election push to November.
Greitens has for years been a problematic figure for his party, having resigned from office in 2018 amid a sexual misconduct scandal, a criminal investigation and the threat of impeachment. (He has denied many of the claims against him but admitted to an extramarital affair.)
Earlier this year his candidacy was rocked by domestic abuse allegations from his ex-wife amid their child custody battle and, more recently, Greitens elicited condemnation from many state Republicans over a campaign video in which he portrayed himself as a "RINO [Republican in name only] hunter."
Wood -- who said he would "put the country first and be part of a governing coalition" -- is also assuming moderate Democrats would vote in his favor because "there are a lot of Democrats who want to see Missouri send somebody in the mainstream to the U.S. Senate," according to the Post-Dispatch.
That early campaign promise comes at a tense time amid fallout over the Supreme Court's repeal of Roe and Missouri's enactment of a trigger law that only permits abortions in cases of medical emergency but without exceptions for rape or incest. Wood indicated he does not fully agree with the terms of the law, saying, "I am pro-life but believe there should be exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother or serious health risks to the mother."
NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight
84. That's the share of Republicans in a June 24-26 Morning Consult poll who said they had a favorable opinion of former President Trump. Just 16% had an unfavorable opinion of him. That's significant as the country has been in the throes of the Jan. 6 committee's investigation, including bombshell testimony on Tuesday from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top adviser to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows. FiveThirtyEight is tracking the former president's favorability and while most Americans have an unfavorable opinion of him, he remains one of the top candidates in polls for the Republican 2024 presidential primary, suggesting that his influence on the party isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
ONE MORE THING
Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the Jan. 6 committee, is sitting down with "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl in an exclusive interview to discuss her take on the ongoing Capitol insurrection hearings. Karl will discuss his interview on Thursday on "Good Morning America," and the interview will air in full on "This Week" on Sunday, July 3.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Thursday morning with the confusion over access to abortion pills and even contraceptive pills after Roe was overturned. ABC's Anne Flaherty leads us off. Then, ABC News contributor Col. Steve Ganyard breaks down the significance of Finland and Sweden joining NATO. And, ABC's Kayna Whitworth reports on the trans community's struggle with insurance companies to cover procedures they view as "cosmetic." http://apple.co/2HPocUL
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
- President Joe Biden wraps up his NATO summit and related European tour on Thursday and will hold a press conference at 8 a.m. ET.
- Republican Rep. Liz Cheney will participate in a debate between her and the other Republican candidates for Wyoming's sole House seat. The debate will begin at 9 p.m. ET.
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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back on Friday for the latest.