Rep. Liz Cheney has said she will question how the US can “call ourselves a nation of laws” if the Justice Department opts not to indict former President Donald Trump in connection with last year’s Capitol riot — even if evidence shows criminal wrongdoing on his part.
The Wyoming Republican – who serves as vice chair of the House select committee investigating the attack – told CNN in an interview on Thursday that the 45th president is “guilty of the most serious dereliction of duty of any president in our nation’s history.”
“I think that we’re going to continue to follow the facts. I think the Department of Justice will do that,” Cheney added. “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.”
The committee held eight live hearings earlier this summer laying out Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election result and arguing that he deliberately incited a mob of his supporters to riot at the Capitol and stop the joint session of Congress certifying Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021.
“You’ve had a federal judge in California say that it’s more likely than not that he [Trump] and John Eastman committed two crimes,” said Cheney, referring to a ruling by District Judge David Carter in March ordering Eastman to turn over more than 100 emails to the Jan. 6 panel.
The committee plans to resume its public hearings in September and Cheney said the panel may “have an opinion” about who should face criminal liability.
“There’s much more that we have not yet shared in hearings and that we anticipate we will share in the fall,” Cheney added. “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 the “volume of information” received by the committee has been higher than they expected, and hinted at a “more sophisticated and broader-reaching effort” by those close to Trump to pressure state officials, the Justice Department or former Vice President Mike Pence to keep the former president in power.
Cheney sat for the interview less than two weeks before she is expected to lose her House primary in Wyoming to Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman.
A recent Casper Star-Tribune survey gave Hageman 52% of the prospective Republican vote compared to just 30% for Cheney.
Despite the low polling numbers, Cheney remains confident in her re-election bid.
“I don’t expect to lose,” she told CNN. “I’m working hard to earn every single vote and, ultimately, I really believe that the people of Wyoming fundamentally understand how important fidelity to the Constitution is; understand how important it is that we fight for those fundamental principles on which everything else is based.”
Cheney’s father – former Vice President Dick Cheney – backed her in a campaign ad released Thursday, while taking sharp aim at Trump at the same time.
“In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual that was a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump,” the 46th vice president said.
“He tried to steal the last election using lies and violence to keep himself in power after the voters rejected him. He is a coward. A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters,” the elder Cheney continued. “He lost his election, and he lost big. I know that he knows it and deep down, I think most Republicans know it.”