Rep. Liz Cheney took aim at former President Donald Trump on the anniversary of the Capitol siege Thursday, saying her Republican rival has “gone to war with the rule of law.”
Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, is vice-chair of the Jan. 6 Select Committee and she defended the committee’s work to probe the riot of Jan. 6, 2021, when pro-Trump supporters disrupted certification of the last presidential election.
The congresswoman appeared on Fox News’ “Special Report” and said Trump’s speech provoked the riot.
“I think that you have to look at the speech,” Cheney said.
“You have to look at the extent to which he was urging people to fight like hell. You have to look at the extent to which he had been for months, weeks before that, telling people: ‘Come to Washington, it’ll be wild.’”
Trump has continued to suggest “the violence on Jan. 6 was justified,” Cheney said.
“When he says Nov. 3 was the insurrection and Jan. 6 was a protest, what he’s doing is continuing to undermine our electoral process,” Cheney said.
“You know, he’s gone to war with the rule of law and I think that’s also really important for people to understand.
“We had over 60 state and federal courts that heard his claims – many of them were Trump judges – they heard the evidence in many of those cases and they rejected them,” she added.
“The president of the United States … has got a fundamental Constitutional responsibility to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. And that is what Donald Trump failed to do.”
Cheney said the country is facing a “grave threat” to its institutions but didn’t agree with comments by Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris that compared the Jan. 6 riot to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor or 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“I think when you look at what happened, and at the attack that happened on Jan. 6, I think it’s different from what happened on 9/11, different from Pearl Harbor,” Cheney said. “Obviously, 3,000 Americans died in each of those events, each of those attacks.
“But this was a mob that was summoned by and provoked by the president of the United States in an effort to stop the counting of electoral votes, which is a constitutional process.”
When host Brett Baier asked her if the goal of the committee was to prevent Trump from running again, she answered no and listed a number of issues being probed as a “fundamental threat to democracy.” They included Trump’s pressuring state officials not to certify their results and the alleged discussions to appoint to Jeffrey Clark as attorney general as Trump questioned the integrity of Joe Biden’s election win.
“We need to understand what happened,” Cheney said. “You know, the peaceful transfer of power is fundamental to the survival of our republic. And we all have a duty to ensure that peaceful transfer of power every four years.”
The committee will look at legislative work, such as whether reforms are necessary to the Electoral Count Act, she said.
“We need to look at things like, are there enhanced penalties that are necessary for a president who fails to come to the aid of Congress, who fails to come to the aid of any coequal branch of government?” Cheney said.
The committee needs to look at “dereliction of duty,” she said, noting reports that Trump was in the dining room near the Oval Office as the riot unfolded.
“He could have, at any moment, taken a few steps down the hall to the briefing room, gone on live television, and urged his supporters to stop and go home — and he didn’t do that,” Cheney said.
“And so, there are real legislative questions the committee needs to answer and needs to think about. But that doesn’t mean that we’re going to have complete agreement, or that I certainly agree with policy matters that I have not agreed with in the past.”
Cheney is one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting insurrection. She earlier in the day appeared with her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, to be the only two Republicans on the House floor to mark a moment of silence for Jan. 6.