In an interview with CNN’s Kasie Hunt, Cheney — the GOP vice chair of the House select committee investigating the events surrounding the January 6, 2021, insurrection — said Trump is “guilty of the most serious dereliction of duty of any president in our nation’s history” and pointed to a judge who’s said he likely committed crimes. She said the House committee is “going to continue to follow the facts. I think Department of Justice will do that. But they have to make decisions about prosecution.”
“Understanding what it means if the facts and the evidence are there, and they decide not to prosecute — how do we then call ourselves a nation of laws? I think that’s a very serious, serious balancing,” Cheney said.
“The question for us is, are we a nation of laws? Are we a country where no one is above the law? And what do the facts and the evidence show?” Cheney said.
She sidestepped questions about whether Trump being prosecuted by President Joe Biden’s Justice Department would only add to his strength with the Republican Party’s base ahead of the 2024 presidential bid that Trump has repeatedly teased.
“I don’t think that it’s appropriate to think about it that way,” said Cheney, who’s facing a Trump-backed challenger in a primary later this month.
She alluded to Judge David Carter, a federal judge in California who ordered right-wing attorney John Eastman to turn over 101 emails from around January 6, 2021, writing in March that he “finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”
“I think he’s guilty of the most serious dereliction of duty of any president in our nation’s history,” Cheney said of Trump. “You’ve had a federal judge in California say that it’s more likely than not that he and John Eastman committed two crimes.”
Cheney’s comments come as the House panel prepares for a busy August. A committee spokesperson also said last week that the committee intended to share 20 transcripts with the Justice Department, a move that comes as the department’s criminal investigation into January 6 is heating up.
The House committee is preparing to release its final report ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Cheney faces a series of Trump-aligned challengers in her August 16 primary, including the Trump-endorsed Harriet Hageman, a former Wyoming national Republican committeewoman who has advanced conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. Her reelection campaign unveiled an ad on Thursday in which the former vice president lays into Trump over his lies about widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
“He tried to steal the last election using lies and violence to keep himself in power after the voters had rejected him,” the former vice president says in the spot.
“He is a coward. A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters. He lost his election and he lost big. I know it, he knows it and, deep down, I think most Republicans know it,” Dick Cheney adds.
Liz Cheney, who has courted Democratic voters in Wyoming’s primary, said she doesn’t see the House committee’s work through the lens of political outcomes.
Cheney said the House panel will continue to lay out evidence in the coming months and that she expects the committee to “have an opinion” about making criminal referrals to the Justice Department.
“There’s much more that we have not yet shared in hearings and that we anticipate we will share in the fall,” she said. “And we will also make decisions about criminal referrals. And ultimately, the decision about prosecution’s up to the Justice Department. But I would anticipate that the committee will have an opinion on it.”
Cheney said that during the committee’s probe, she has learned that Trump’s effort to block the 2020 election results were “a more sophisticated and broader-reaching effort than I understood coming into it.”
“I think all of us on the committee have had that same reaction, which is that there’s so much, there was so much more that was happening in multiple different areas, whether it was the pressure on state officials or the pressure on the Justice Department” or efforts to push former Vice President Mike Pence to reject some states’ electoral votes.
“The volume of information has been more than I expected,” she said.
Cheney praised Pence for rejecting the pressure from Trump. She said Pence, who, as vice president oversaw the session of Congress in which electoral votes were officially counted, “was a hero on January 6.”
“It’s very clear that there was tremendous pressure from a number of different places on him. And he did his duty and he didn’t succumb to that pressure and if he had succumbed to that pressure, things would have been very different,” she said. “And so I think that that we owe him gratitude for how he conducted himself and for his refusal to do what Donald Trump wanted him to do, which would have been illegal.”
CLARIFICATION: This headline and story have been updated to clarify the conditions that Cheney thinks would call into question the US as a “nation of laws” and to include additional information from the interview.