Washington – Yesterday afternoon, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) was interviewed by Jake Tapper on CNN’s “The Lead” to discuss the future of the Republican Party and the ongoing conflict in Israel. Watch the full interview here and see an excerpt of the transcript below:
JAKE TAPPER: I want you to listen to what Elise Stefanik said, after she was elected to replace you as Conference Chair.
REP. ELISE STEFANIK: Liz Cheney is a part of this conference, Adam Kinzinger is a part of this conference. They were elected and sent here by the people in their district, they are part of this Republican conference. We are unified in working with President Trump.
TAPPER: So, she had me and then she lost me. Unified in working with President Trump? That doesn’t sound like anything Adam Kinzinger or you would say?
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Well, I think that, you know, I’ve been very clear that what President Trump did, after the election, what he did to provoke the attack on January 6, what he continues to do in terms of the kind of language we know spark that violence and the claims he’s making to undermine our democracy have, you know, made him unfit for office. I don’t believe that he should be the leader the party. And I think it’s really important for us as Republicans to stand for the truth, to stand by the Constitution.
TAPPER: So, you’re not unified? I think it’s fair to say.
REP. CHENEY: Well, I mean, listen, I think that there are some very big issues that we need to grapple with as a party. And we need to be in a position where we can get back voters who left us in 2020, where we can convey to people how important it is to come together around and set of principles that we know are the right ones for the country. I do think that the policies that President Biden and Speaker Pelosi are proposing are misguided, I think they’re harmful. I think they’re wrong for the country. For Republicans to be in a position where we can stop those policies. We’ve got to be able to tell people you can trust us, you can trust us to be based around conservative principles, and to reject the lie and to protect the Constitution.
TAPPER: But are you worried that he’s going to try in 2024 and having now purged people like you, trying to purge people like Secretary of State Raffensperger in Georgia, et cetera, et cetera. This time, you might succeed.
REP. CHENEY: He won’t succeed. He may try, but he won’t succeed. And you know, I think what we’ve seen is, and Secretary of State Raffensperger is a really good example of just the tremendous strength of local Republican officials around the country refusing to give in when the pressure — President Trump was trying to pressure them. And I think what we’ve seen is how important it is the role individuals have to play in defending the system and how important that is. Our system held. The institutions held. There’s an ongoing danger and we’ve got to continue to stand up against it.
TAPPER: What is it like standing up for what seems, from my perspective, to be just kind of basic decency, law and order constitutionality and be shunned by House Republicans? It looks weird from where I said.
REP. CHENEY: Well, you’re not a House Republican.
TAPPER: Right. True.
REP. CHENEY: Listen, I think that to me, it’s very clear what is required here. And it’s not, you know, some people say, well, it’s courageous. I don’t think of it that way. I think, you know, you’ve written about men in particular there who have real courage. That’s — this is not landing on Omaha Beach or being at a forward operating base in Afghanistan. This is duty and it’s about truth. And we’ve had a collapse of truth in this country. We’ve, you know, seen an evolution of, you know, general situation where conspiracy theories are rampant, where people, good people and a lot of instances, you know, have been misled and believe things that are not true. And so, I think that we all have an obligation to make sure we’re doing everything we can to convey the truth, to stand for the truth, and to stand for the constitution and our obligations.
TAPPER: Needless to say, this is not your dad’s Republican Party, I think that we look at right now, with the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Lauren Boebert, and Matt Gaetz, and Louie Gohmert, many others in Congress who are embracing Trump’s big lie. None of them condemned by party leaders. In fact, the only person that I can tell that’s faced any repercussions when it comes to the big lie, and the insurrection are not, you know, Mo Brooks, who helped incite the crowd, or Gohmert or any of the others, it’s you for refusing to lie about it. What does that say? And if you’re — if the House Republican Party now stands for lying, is it worth saving?
REP. CHENEY: We have to save the party. I think the country needs the Republican Party. And certainly, you know, the ideals and the principles that I believe in should be reflected in that party. You know, I think that part of the challenge we’re facing on both sides, I think it’s been especially clear on my side recently, is that, you know, we need to incentivize people who want to come to Washington and do real work. People who want to come and actually legislate. And we also need to get back to a time when we could have really vigorous policy debates, where we were confident enough in our views and our side of things that we could stand up and argue for them and make the case. But that we didn’t have the kind of vitriol flying back and forth that we certainly have over the course of last several years. And people ought to want to be there and work hard and not be social media stars. That’s not the right reason to be there. The vast majority of members are there for the right reasons. But we’ve got to find a way in our society to incentivize more substance, more seriousness. The issues we have to grapple with as a nation are really important. And they have — they’re very consequential. And we need people who are up to that task and committed to doing the hard work of coming up with the right solutions for the country.
TAPPER: But I want to ask you about some of these important policy disputes because they’re important right now in the Middle East. There is this conflict between Israel, the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas. Palestinian militants have terrorists from Gaza, have been launching a barrage of rockets into Israel. Obviously Hamas was classified a terrorist group by the U.S. government. But I do wonder, this particular conflict began because of the eviction of some Palestinian families from East Jerusalem. That — and then it started spiraling out of control, then Hamas started throwing in the missiles indiscriminately in civilian centers. Do you have any concerns about the spark? The idea of them removing — the evicting of the Palestinian families in East Jerusalem?
REP. CHENEY: Well, I think that you have to look at the specifics about that eviction. I think you had a situation where the Israelis had, in fact, honored some of the property rights of the Jordanian government had provided. And certainly, you know, a dispute about an eviction should never be a justification for the kind of terrorist attacks we’re seeing now. I think that it’s a pretext. You’ve got Hamas, you know, having placed its weapon systems in hospitals and schools, putting civilians very much at risk, launching attacks. And then you have people on the Democratic side of the aisle here in Washington, for example, standing up, you know, against Israel, saying that Israel doesn’t have the right to defend herself. I think the important thing actually is for Israel to win. The important thing is for us to be able to defeat Hamas, and for the United States to stand with Israel as she defends herself.
TAPPER: Let me ask you, you praise the Trump administration for the Abraham Accords, and rightly so. This is a peace between Israel and several Sunni Arab nations. But your former colleague at the State Department, back when you were a State Department player, Richard Haass, now president of the Council on Foreign Relations, he says that he thinks the Abraham Accords are in a way, partly to blame for what’s going on, because there was so much energy in that, and no energy, no attention on the Arab, on the Palestinian Israeli conflict. What do you — what do you make of that?
REP. CHENEY: You know, listen, I disagree with Richard, on that one. I think that the idea that forging peace, which was historic, somehow is responsible for, you know, Hamas launching rat rockets and attacking Israel and killing innocent civilians. You know, I think that that’s a stretch. I disagree. I don’t think he’s right on that. I think that, you know, ultimately, Israel’s got to be able to know that they can defend themselves, they have to know that their security is going to be guaranteed. They have to know that there’s a government on the other side that will root out terror. There certainly isn’t right now. And we’ve got to be in a situation where, you know, again, America has to stand with Israel. And particularly in this instance, where Israel has been attacked and is defending itself.