Trump-backed challenger to Cheney decried him as 'racist,' 'xenophobic' in 2016: report

Harriet Hageman resisted former President TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE's 2016 presidential efforts before receiving an endorsement from Trump in her bid to unseat Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn Cheney'You're a joke': Greene clashes with Cheney, Raskin on House floor The 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress Cheney reveals GOP's Banks claimed he was Jan. 6 panel's ranking member MORE (R-Wyo.).

Hageman, Cheney's onetime ally, called Trump "the weakest candidate" in the 2016 Republican primary and referred to him as "somebody who is racist and xenophobic," according to The New York Times.  

Yet Trump offered his full-throated endorsement of Hageman earlier this month in her campaign to unseat one of his highest-profile critics in the Republican party. 

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"Unlike RINO Liz Cheney, Harriet is all in for America First," Trump said in a Sept. 9 endorsement statement, using an acronym for "Republican in name only." "Harriet has my Complete and Total Endorsement in replacing the Democrats number one provider of sound bites, Liz Cheney."

In a statement to the Times, Hageman said she has come to realize since 2016 that the claims Cheney and others were making about Trump were untrue. 

“I heard and believed the lies the Democrats and Liz Cheney’s friends in the media were telling at the time, but that is ancient history as I quickly realized that their allegations against President Trump were untrue,” Hageman said in the statement.

“He was the greatest president of my lifetime, and I am proud to have been able to renominate him in 2020. And I’m proud to strongly support him today,” she added.

Cheney drew Trump's wrath when she voted to impeach him following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. In a statement explaining her vote, she said Trump "summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack."

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"There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution," she added. 

Cheney served as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference until Republicans ousted her from that position in May following her vote to impeach Trump. 

Hageman is one of several Republicans, including Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it Australian politician on Cruz, vaccines: 'We don't need your lectures, thanks mate' MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress McCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral Mayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case MORE (R-S.C.), two presidential candidates in 2016, who were once outspoken against Trump but fell in line behind the former president when it was "politically advantageous," the Times said. 

Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerNevada becomes early Senate battleground Nevada governor Sisolak injured in car accident, released from hospital Democrats brace for tough election year in Nevada MORE, a former Republican senator from Nevada now running for governor, is another previous Trump critic who flipped to a supporter of the former president as his clout in the party swelled. 

Cheney endorsed Trump in 2016, even emphasizing her support following a the circulation of the "Access Hollywood" recording in which Trump was heard boasting about groping women.

In response to Trump's endorsement of her opponent in the 2022 race, she tweeted, "Bring it."