Trump's 'Big Lie' imperils Republicans who don't embrace it

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FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2021, file photo, voters wait in line to cast their ballots in Georgia's Senate runoff election in Atlanta. Former President Donald Trumps discredited allegations about a stolen election did nothing to save his presidency months ago. Courtrooms, state governments and ultimately Congress affirmed the legitimacy of his defeat and the honesty of the process. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

WASHINGTON – Allegiance to a lie has become a test of loyalty to Donald Trump and a means of self-preservation for Republicans.

Trump's discredited allegations about a stolen election did nothing to save his presidency when courtrooms high and low, state governments and ultimately Congress — meeting in the chaos of an insurrection powered by his grievances — affirmed the legitimacy of his defeat and the honesty of the process that led to it.

Now those “Big Lie” allegations, no closer to true than before, are getting a second, howling wind.

Republicans are expected to believe the falsehoods, pretend they do or at bare minimum not let it be known that they don’t. State Republican leaders from Georgia to Arizona have been flamed by Trump or his followers for standing against the lies.

Only a select few Republicans in Washington are defying him, for they, too, know that doing so comes with a cost.

Liz Cheney, lifelong conservative and daughter of a vice president once loved by the Republican right while earning the nickname Darth Vader, was willing to pay it.

“History is watching,” the Wyoming congresswoman wrote as House Republicans prepared to strip her of her No. 3 leadership position this coming week over her confrontation with Trump. “Republicans need to stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.”

Everyone enmeshed in Trump’s relentless election claims agrees a “Big Lie” is at the heart of the matter. President Joe Biden says so. Cheney said so. Dominion Voting Systems alleges in a massive lawsuit that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani “manufactured and disseminated the ’Big Lie.'”