Washington – On Friday, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) took part in interviews with four radio shows and one podcast to talk about the future of the GOP.
See below for excerpts from the Hugh Hewitt Show, the Guy Benson Show, The Dispatch Podcast, Vic Wright’s Morning Show on Basin Radio Network in Wyoming, and New Hampshire Today:
HUGH HEWITT: I want to draw on your experience as the deputy assistant Secretary of State and on national security. We are witnessing the escalating attacks on Israel this morning. I had Dr. Oren on last hour, from Hamas, and even some missiles from Lebanon yesterday, race riots in Israel. But 25 of your Democratic colleagues sent a letter to Anthony Blinken asking him to condemn Israel for a property rights dispute. I mean, yesterday they did this. And Andrew Yang had to walk back a vanilla “I stand with Israel” statement, and the Biden Administration is everywhere. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense. What has happened to the Democratic Party and its support for Israel?
REP. LIZ CHENEY:Well, it’s been a long-time descent into this unwillingness to stand for Israel. And the idea that at this moment when Israel is under attack — Israel, in fact, did honor some of the leases and other property documents that the Jordanians had granted. So, the notion that Hamas and, of course, their Iranian backers, are using this to launch attacks against Israel is completely without any justification. It’s a terrorist attack. The Democrats are demonstrating, once again, a failure to understand that what is absolutely crucial here is that Hamas has to be defeated, and that America has got to stand with Israel and support Israel’s right to defend herself, the right to respond, right to do whatever is necessary. You’re seeing now, it looks like the beginnings of operations that will, in fact, target not just the locations of the rockets and the other weapons systems, but also the massive underground tunnel system that Hamas has throughout Gaza. Israel has to do it. They’re justified in doing it. And the idea that at this moment in particular you’d have Democrats saying, “Don’t stand with Israel,” or rescinding their statements, is really dangerous and misguided and will help to make it more difficult for Israel to prevail.
HEWITT:Now, Congresswoman, I just played a clip of Ben Rhodes, who was deputy assistant — deputy national security advisor in the Obama years, on MSNBC last night with Joy Reid. And he blamed Israelis’ politics shift to the right for the problems in Israel and the collapse of the two-state solution. Now, he did get voted off the Obama island. He’s the only member of the Obama Administration not back in the Biden Administration, so I don’t know how much he represents. But what is it that they have to blame Israel? What is behind that?
REP. CHENEY:You know, it’s very — I don’t understand it. I don’t know, and history shows how wrong it is, but they do it again and again. What we also know is that the idea that somehow the United States should not stand with Israel, the idea that Israel has a partner in the Palestinian Authority or in any of the entities that claims to represent the Palestinian people, and that all this would end if Israel would simply stop defending herself — it’s, in some ways, similar to the same Democrat policies that we’ve watched over the years urging appeasement in other areas for the United States, and it’s wrong. At the end of the day, if the Palestinians, if the terrorist organizations, if Hamas and their backers, and the Iranians in particular, are going to use territory from which to launch attacks against Israel, we won’t have peace. And we’ve got to have security, and America has to back Israel, and not contribute to efforts to delegitimize the state of Israel at the United Nations and other places which too often the Democrats also rush to do.
HEWITT:I want to give the last couple of minutes to you. We’ve got to keep you in the party, your point of view strong, your voice loud — that’s what I’m concerned about, because I’m not concerned about January 6th. I think the vast majority of Americans, 99.999% reject the insurrectionists and reject the idea that that was legitimate. Indeed, Josh Hawley on this show last week said, “Mike Pence didn’t have any power to stop the counting.” I just think the dangers are so overwhelming around us, we have to get the Republicans focused on the Democrats and try and stop the appeasement of Iran and the buildup of China.
REP. CHENEY:Well, I come at this, Hugh, both as an attorney as well as somebody who has spent years focused on Middle East policy and national security policy. And the nation faces very significant threats, and it’s because of my experience, in terms of working on Middle East policy, that I recognize and understand how dangerous the Biden approach is, why it’s so important for us to have a policy that involves peace through strength, deterrence that makes clear to our adversaries we have the will and the capability to deter them. But it is also my work over decades in places like Eastern Europe and places like the former Soviet Union just after it collapsed, and places like the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia where I have seen authoritarianism grow. I understand how fragile our democracy is, and we have to be able to sustain our freedom. We have to be able to defend it and protect it, and that means — and we certainly can have, and have had in the past, commissions underway while there were also criminal investigations going on. If you look at the 9/11 Commission, if you look at the Warren Commission, if you, as I said, go all the way back to Pearl Harbor, and it matters. When you have an attack on the Capitol like that, you have to get to the bottom of it, not just from the perspective of where the criminal investigation might go, but also a commission that allows the American people to get all of the information, to truly understand how we ended up in a place where we had that assault. But at the same time, you know, we have to be able to convince voters across this country they can trust us, they can count on us, they can trust us to be competent, conservative leaders. And that requires building a foundation of truth. And right now, we have a former president who is actively on a daily basis saying that the election was stolen, it was rigged, it was a fraud, and we have members of the Republican Party emboldening him, embracing the lie and perpetuating it. We have to do both of these things at once. We have to get away from the lie, we have to embrace the Constitution. The Constitution’s got to be our shield on domestic policy and national security policy.
GUY BENSON: There’s another sort of line of argument or way of thinking that says, “Okay, the feud with Trump is definitely part of it, but, you know, oh she, you know, she’s very hawkish on foreign policy,” or they’ll use the word warmonger and then there’s, you know, “She said some things about Russia and Trump,” and you were asked about that last night by Bret. There are other things involved here, and to distill it into my curiosity, based on your experience, in your opinion, in the lay of the land among House Republicans, if you had not been critical of Trump about the 2020 election and his claims, notwithstanding your disagreements on foreign policy or what you said about Russia or anything else. If you had not criticized him publicly on that issue, 2020 and the election, would you still be House Republican conference chair today?
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Well, I guess I look at it a little bit differently. I would say, first of all, this is not about policy at all. If you look at, you know my voting record, I voted 93% of the time with him, supported his policies the vast majority of the time, and still do support deregulation and cutting taxes and investing in our military — those are all really important things — securing our border. So, it isn’t about policy. For me, obviously, the claims he began to make after the election, in particular, and then January 6th changed everything and created a situation where you had a line that could never be crossed. I’m not willing to be silent in the face of the continued claims that he’s making about the election. I’m not willing to participate in perpetuating a lie. I think that’s dangerous for the Republic, it’s dangerous from the perspective of the Constitution, and it prevents us from moving forward, because we have to be willing to convince people who left us in 2020 that they ought to come back again. The only way to do that is by being clear that our party is one that’s based on substance and ideas, and that we’re committed to the truth and that we reject lies.
SARAH ISGUR: What does the Republican Party stand for right now except an increasing distance from any specific policy goals and an increasing closeness to Trump? Is the Republican Party — Trump equals Republican Party? It doesn’t stand for policies the way that political parties used to back in the day, but rather it is simply a person.
REP. LIZ CHENEY:That is at the heart of the problem. And I think if you look at what we have to do as Republicans and what I think is my obligation — and I would argue the obligation of elected Republican officials, but also Republican voters around the country — we have to get back to standing for policy. We have to get back to standing up and being able to convey to people, here’s what we believe and why you ought to vote for us. If you go back to the fact that we didn’t have a platform, for example, this year — 2020. You guys have been around long enough, you know platforms — people you know, I don’t agree with everything in it and there are big fights about it, but it matters. It matters to say, “Here’s what we stand for,” and we didn’t have a platform. I think that if you look at the extent to which, for example, in the hearings that are going on with people who have been arrested for January 6, and the numbers of people who say, “Well, I was there because Donald Trump told me to be there. He is the commander-in-chief, he told me.” You really do have a situation that is dangerous, and one where the party gets oriented around an individual. You know, I’ve said it’s a cult of personality and it’s anti-democratic. I think that what we’ve seen in the Conference and what we’ve seen more broadly is exactly the reason why we can’t be silent right now, why we have to stand up and say, “No, this is what this party is and what we stand for and what we’re going to fight for.“
VIC WRIGHT:My question is, you are, obviously, wanting to make sure, as you said, with all the rounds on national television, all the quotes that are out, that your goal is to make sure that President Trump, former President Trump, does not get back into the Oval Office. Can you explain in more detail why you are set to do that?
REP. LIZ CHENEY:Well, I agree that the former president’s policies were really good policies for Wyoming, and I voted with him, something like 93% of the time — more than almost any other Republican member of the House. So, it’s not about his policies because when it comes to oil and gas, when it comes to coal, when it comes to national security policy generally, there were a whole range of areas, judges, where his policies were absolutely right for the country. But the issue is January 6th and what has happened since the election and the extent to which the former president has demonstrated his willingness to provoke the attack on the Capitol, not to send help when the attack was underway, and continue to claim the election was stolen in a way that really does threaten, fundamentally, the foundations of a democracy. We’ve got to have reverence for the Constitution and reverence for the rule of law. The rule of law means that there is a way to contest elections, the former president did that — over 60 different court cases rejected the claim. Once the Electoral College has met and voted, that’s it, that’s the end. The stability and the security and the sanctity of our system requires that we honor that and that we are faithful to the rule of law. And so, I think it’s really important for us as Republicans, to make sure that we can build the kind of a coalition that will allow us to get the majority back and ‘22 and the White House back in ‘24 because the Biden policies are dangerous for the country, they’re certainly bad for us in Wyoming. But if we want to really defeat them, we have to get back voters who left us in 2020, and we have to be very clear about what happened in that election. We can’t be complicit in the kind of lies that the former president is telling about what happened.
WRIGHT:Alright, a listener — I have asked listeners to send in emails for questions they would like to know. One says, “What made you decide that your personal feelings were more important than the majority of the people in Wyoming that elected you, and how can you justify what is happening now as compared to how well things were going under President Trump? Wyoming really wants to know just why you betrayed us.” A quote, question from a listener, and I think from the feedback I’m getting from my listeners on this station, and maybe across the whole state, that’s a common feeling and theme there. What do you have to respond in preparation for a reelection bid for you in 2022?
REP. CHENEY:Yeah, listen, I really appreciate it when people ask that question because I think that is the heart of the issues that we’re dealing with, and what I would say is that this is about my oath to the Constitution, and that’s an oath that all of us take — it’s an oath we swear before God, and it is an oath that it doesn’t bend to partisanship or to party politics. As I said, this is not about policy. The policies of the Trump Administration were much better for Wyoming than President Biden’s policies are. President Biden’s policies are dangerous, and we’ve got to stop them, but we don’t live in a country where you say we are going to ignore the results of an election, we’re going to provoke an attack on the Capitol, in order to keep in power a person because we like their policy. That’s not America. I’ve spent a lot of time in my career working in countries around the world where violence determines who leads, and that can never be America. We have to obey our oath to the Constitution, especially when it goes against our own political beliefs, our own party. I would ask listeners if a Democratic President Barack Obama had been responsible for the things Donald Trump was responsible for since the election, not conceding, provoking an attack on the Capitol, continuing to say the election was stolen and the system is rigged. If Barack Obama were doing this, people need to say, how would we respond to that? Our duty to the Constitution is one that’s got to be above politics. I know the people of Wyoming, we supported President Trump with a larger margin than any other state in the country because of his policies. In my view, January 6th changed everything. It’s a line that can never be crossed. That’s, I believe, my obligation, and I think the voters of Wyoming know how important it is to be faithful to the Constitution, so we have the Constitution to protect us against the kind of massive overreach that we too often see from the Democrats.
CHRIS RYAN: Great. Appreciate you taking some time to join us here in the Granite State. I want to start with your upshot on what you feel that this decision that was made by Kevin McCarthy and your colleagues in the House will mean for the Republican Party moving forward and the immediate fallout from this. Do you feel that this is going to create an environment where there’s going to be less ability to have success in the 2022 and 2024 elections?
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Well, I think, Chris, that for the Republican Party to be able to prevail, we have to attract back voters who left us in 2020, and to do that, we’ve really got to be willing to take a hard look at what happened in 2020. So, from a political perspective, we clearly have to be in a position where we can convince people we are competent conservatives, you can trust us, we will be responsible with the authority that you give us if you vote for us and help us take back the majority in the House and the Senate and get the White House in ‘24. Politically, we got to attract people back to the party. But even more importantly, we have a constitutional issue. The fundamental constitutional issue has to be above partisanship and above politics. We all have to have, I believe, a reverence for the rule of law. We have to be willing to say the 2020 election was not stolen and the former president is lying when he tells you it was, and we’ve got to be willing to embrace the Constitution and not the big lie.
RYAN: In regards to infrastructure, the president has said that he wants to engage in bipartisan discussions. There’s a significant difference between where Republicans are at and where, obviously, Democrats are at on this spending issue. Do you think that President Biden is being honest with the fact that he wants this to be a bipartisan process?
REP. CHENEY: I think we’ve heard those words. We’ve seen the White House and the president say that they want bipartisanship. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any evidence to date that they’re actually willing to incorporate any Republican ideas. I think a number of us have had discussions with people at the White House about the key parts of the infrastructure bill that could have bipartisan support — rural broadband, for example. It’s not dissimilar from the process we went through with the $1.9 trillion COVID package where there were issues that we could come to agreement on — vaccines, for example, PPP program. There were things that we all knew needed to be done, and the Democrats would tell us, “Oh yes, we want to work in a bipartisan fashion,” but then none of our ideas would ever get into the product. So, I think in this situation there’s real concern. I have deep concern about the amount of money that we’ve been appropriating. The $1.9 trillion package — I think we had maybe an hour of debate, it was under special rules, no real committee time, no amendments, no markups. That’s not how Congress should operate. I think we’re already beginning to see inflationary pressures. When you inject this much money in the economy this quickly, you have to realize that you’re going to have some negative consequences. Obviously, the debt is soaring out of control and, of course, the Chinese Communist Party, the government of China, holds a significant portion of that debt. I really think that we are, unfortunately, going to see some pretty far-left priorities and wishlist items that the Democrats may be trying to just sort of ram through, thinking they got to get as much done as they can before we get too close to the next election cycle and their moderate members start to get worried about reelection.