Representative Liz Cheney publicly urged the Justice Department on Sunday to act against Donald Trump, warning that not holding the former president responsible for Jan. 6 is a “more serious constitutional threat” to American democracy than letting him off the hook.
Cheney — one of two Republican members of the Democratic-led Capitol Riot Committee — also shared a warning to her party, which has largely ostracized her for her role on the committee.
“I think he can’t be the party’s nominee” in the 2024 presidential race, the Wyoming Rep. told ABC News of Trump. “I don’t think the party is going to survive that.”
In her first sit-down interview since the commission’s explosive hearings began Jan. 6, Cheney asserted that “yes,” the commission was considering a criminal referral for the former president over his role in the riot.
She also suggested that Attorney General Merrick Garland might use the evidence lawmakers have presented so far to consider impeaching Trump.
“We will make a decision as a committee on this,” Cheney said, adding, “The Department of Justice does not have to wait for the committee to make a criminal referral.”
“And there can be more than one criminal referral.”
Although the lawmaker did not elaborate on who would have been considered, the committee she deputy chaired put a number of senior political players in her crosshairs.
Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney suggested there could be multiple criminal referrals at the end of the committee’s Jan. 6 presentation of evidence.
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and several House Republicans like Representatives Scott Perry, Andy Biggs and Marjorie Taylor Greene have all been involved in Trump’s alleged plan to overturn the 2020 election.
The committee sought to frame the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as a “last stand” for Trump and his allies in their scheme to undermine American democracy rather than an accidental outbreak of violence.
When asked if she thought her colleagues had put forward an effective case for prosecution, Cheney said that was “ultimately” a Justice Department decision.
I think we as a committee might have a point on that, and if you think about it in terms of what kind of man knows the mob is armed and sends the mob to attack the Capitol and further incite that mob when the vice president is under threat when Congress is under threat.
“I think there’s no doubt, I mean, that a dangerous man like Donald Trump could never be anywhere near the Oval Office again,” Cheney told ABC News.
“It’s just — it’s very scary and I think we’ll certainly, you know, continue to bring what we found to the American people.”
Turning to the next presidential race, Cheney denied that it would undermine democracy for a former president to be tried by the current president’s Department of Justice, in the event that President Joe Biden is confronted again.
“I have a bigger concern about what it would mean for people not to be held accountable for what happened here,” said the Wyoming Republican.
I think it’s a much more serious constitutional threat if the president can engage in these kinds of activities and, you know, the majority of the president’s party looks away or we as a country decide, you know, we’re not going to take our constitutional obligations seriously. I think this is a more serious threat.
But she denied that Sessions was in any way “political,” an accusation frequently leveled by Trump and his allies, though Cheney admitted she did not think he was fit for office.
“I think there is no question, I mean, that a dangerous man like Donald Trump will never be anywhere near the Oval Office again,” she said.
Cheney warned that if Trump wins the Republican presidential primary for the third time, it could mean the end of the party.
I believe in the party, I believe in what the party can be and what the party can stand for. “I’m not ready to give up on that,” she said.
“Those of us who believe in Republican principles and ideals have a responsibility to try to restore the party to what it could be and reject so much poison and vitriol.”
The actress left the door open to her White House aspirations, which could pit her against Trump in a historically tense Republican race for the 2024 election cycle.
“I’ll make a decision about 24 days down the road,” Cheney said.
But I don’t think of it in terms of deciding whether to run for office and more in terms of, you know, as an American and as someone who’s in a position of public confidence now, how do I make sure I’m doing everything I can do the right thing?
The Jan. 6 commission’s most damning testimony to date came from Cassidy Hutchinson, Meadows’ former White House aide, who told the commission last week that the former president had tried to physically seize his car from the Secret Service in an effort to escort him. A Capitol supporter, and that he was “rushed” for his senior agent’s throat when he was suspended.
She has publicly urged the Justice Department to step up its investigations into Trump and his allies, after the investigation gained public traction in recent weeks.
“What Cassidy Hutchinson did was an incredible example of courage, courage and patriotism in the face of real pressure,” Cheney said Thursday.
She noted that no one who had questioned Hutchinson’s story in the media had cooperated with the commission in the public record.
“The committee will not stand by and watch its character be assassinated by anonymous sources and by men demanding executive privilege,” Cheney said.
“And so we’re very much looking forward to additional sworn testimony on a whole range of issues.”
Asked if the commission had anything to support the testimony of the presidential motorcade, the deputy replied: “The commission has important evidence on a whole range of issues including the president’s extreme anger.”
Last week, Hutchinson testified that her former boss Meadows, along with Giuliani, personally sought a pardon for their efforts related to the January 6th and Trump allegations of 2020 election fraud.
Another surprising revelation about Trump was that he agreed to have his supporters chant “Hang Mike Pence” once they stormed the Capitol — adding a grim new context to his tweet that day in which he said his former vice president lacked “courage.”
She also testified that the former president knew his supporters were armed when he encouraged them to march on the Capitol.
Since then, Trump has distanced himself from Hutchinson and downplayed her role in his administration, while hurling a series of insults at the 25-year-old former aide.
Women live in a fantasy land. She’s a social climber – if you call that a social climber. “I think it’s a shame that this happened to our country,” Trump told Newsmax.