Rep. Liz Cheney, one of just two Republicans on the select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, excoriated her party’s leadership on Tuesday for its continued defense of former President Donald Trump’s role in the attack on the US Capitol.
Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead,” Cheney said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy “is continuing to demonstrate that he views this as some sort of a political game. It’s not a game, and it’s deadly serious when you’re taking action to try to divert attention away and distract from an investigation like this one.”
And asked about comments that House Republican conference Chair Elise Stefanik had made earlier Tuesday seeking to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the insurrection, Cheney stressed that “what happened is absolutely clear.”
Trump, she said, “lit the flame for what happened. We’ve seen that not just in the speech on the Ellipse, but throughout. What this committee needs to understand is exactly what the details were of the planning and the financing. But for anybody to be suggesting that somehow he wasn’t responsible, I think it’s shameful.”
The comments from Cheney – whom Stefanik replaced in May in the No. 3 role in the House Republican conference – come hours after the House panel held its first meeting, featuring harrowing testimony from four officers who shared their stories of being attacked by rioters. The three-hour hearing was the opening act for the committee, which is preparing to investigate all of the circumstances surrounding the January 6 insurrection, including the role played by Trump.
In a pointed opening statement during the hearing, Cheney said it is imperative to “know what happened every minute of the day in the White House. Every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack.”
“Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward,” the Wyoming Republican continued. “If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our Constitutional Republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system.”
Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois – the other Republican lawmaker on the panel – have faced sharp blowback for joining Pelosi’s committee after the speaker rejected two of McCathy’s choices last week – Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio – which prompted the GOP leader to withdraw all five of his picks.
A growing group of rank-and-file Republicans have argued the pair should be removed from their other committee slots. The two members, however, have said those threats won’t deter them.
“I think that we are at a really important and frankly quite perilous moment. If we look the other way, if we accept what happened on January 6, if we accept what people – my colleagues are saying that we should somehow look at this as a bunch of tourists. They are trying to whitewash it, ignore it,” Cheney told Tapper on Tuesday.
“If we go down that path, then we really are abandoning the rule of law, and we are abandoning what is one of the most fundamental elements of our republic, which is the peaceful transfer of power.”