U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney began the new year by providing updates to two news outlets about the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 invasion of the U.S. Capitol, focusing on former President Donald Trump’s failure to stop the riot.
On ABC’s “This Week” with host George Stephanopoulos, Cheney said she has been surprised to learn about Trump’s movements inside the White House during the Capitol attack last January.
“The committee has firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office, watching the attack on television as the assault on the Capitol occurred,” she said. “The president could have at any moment walked those very few steps into the briefing room, gone on live television, and told his supporters who were assaulting the Capitol to stop. He could have told them to stand down. He could have told them to go home, and he failed to do so. It’s hard to imagine a more significant and more serious dereliction of duty than that.”
Trump, an avid Twitter user at the time, took no immediate action to address the rioters, many of who were identified as his supporters. When he did take action, it was described by some as a mild call for peace and a request for rioters to go home.
Cheney is the the vice chair of the House select committee investigating the attack. She was removed from her post as vice chair of the House Republican conference last year because of her vote to impeach Trump on allegations he incited the Capitol riot.
Stephanopoulos questioned whether Trump’s failure to stop the riot would amount to criminal negligence and Cheney said the committee is still looking into criminal penalties and legislative penalties for dereliction of duty.
She added Trump crossed lines that no president had ever crossed before.
“We have firsthand testimony that his daughter Ivanka went in at least twice to ask him to ‘Please stop this violence,'” Cheney said. “Any man who would not do so, any man who would provoke a violent assault on the Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes, any man who would watch television as police officers were being beaten, as his supporters were invading the Capitol of the United States, is clearly unfit for future office.”
On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Cheney discussed Trump’s planned news conference on Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the Capitol attack, along with the possibility for violent behavior in Washington, D.C.
“Former President Trump is likely again this week to make the same false claims about the election that he knows to be false, and the same false claims about the election that he knows caused violence on Jan. 6,” she said. “I think that is very concerning, given what we know happened in the lead up to (Jan. 6).”
Cheney said that Trump’s plans for this week are not surprising, as Trump knew his claims of the election being “stolen” caused the attack on the Capitol one year ago.
Host Margaret Brennan pointed out that CBS polling has shown 8 million people believe violence would be justified to restore Trump to the president’s office and that seven out of 10 Republicans believed Biden was an illegitimate president.
She asked Cheney why the Republican Party continued to believe Trump’s claims and Cheney responded by saying the former president has blown through every guardrail of democracy and demonstrated a complete lack of fitness for office.
“I think that we’re in a situation where people have got to understand the danger of President Trump and the danger that he posed on that day,” Cheney said. “He could have gone immediately on live television and asked his supporters to stop what was happening, ask them to go home. He instead…had the motivation at the same time the violent assault was happening…he was also calling at least one senator urging delay of the electoral vote.”
She noted that one of the most important jobs of the Jan. 6 committee is to lay out the facts surrounding Trump’s lack of action for the American people so they could have a sense of truth about the events of that day.
Brennan also asked how Cheney expected to win her Wyoming congressional primary later this year with a crowded race and a challenger in Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman, who has received an endorsement from Trump and financial backing from billionaire Peter Thiel.
The incumbent said she anticipated an energetic and hard-fought campaign this year.
“I’m confident that the people of Wyoming will not choose loyalty to one man, one man as dangerous as Donald Trump is,” Cheney said. “This is a man who is simply too dangerous ever to play a role again in our democracy. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to help the American people see the facts about what happened, and to continue to make the case at home about the kind of representation that we need in Washington for the people of Wyoming.”
When Brennan asked if Cheney was considering running against Trump for president in 2024, she said she was focused on her re-election campaign and the Jan. 6 committee for now.
“I can tell you that the single most important thing, though, is to ensure that Donald Trump is not the Republican nominee and that he certainly is not anywhere close to the Oval Office ever again,” she concluded.