Washington – This morning, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) joined both “Fox News Sunday” and ABC’s “This Week” to discuss the future of the Republican Party. Watch the full interviews at the links below and see transcript excerpts as well:
CHRIS WALLACE: Congresswoman Elise Stefanik was elected on Friday to replace you as the number three Republican in the House leadership, and she wasted very little time in saying what she thinks about all this. Take a look.
REP. ELISE STEFANIK: I support President Trump, voters support President Trump. He is an important voice in our Republican Party, and we look forward to working with him.
WALLACE: What do you think of Stefanik?
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Well, I think she’s wrong. You know, when you have a former president who did what Donald Trump did, who provoked an attack on our Capitol to try to stop the counting of electoral votes to try to steal the election, a former president who continues to threaten a democracy in the way that he is, he is —
WALLACE: Let me just interrupt. I just want to ask you — I understand what you say about Trump. I’m asking about Stefanik, who is embracing, wrapping herself in the mantle of Donald Trump. You said to play along with the big lie is to betray Republican voters. Is she betraying Republican voters?
REP. CHENEY: You know, what I said in my last remarks to the Conference as Chairwoman of the Conference was that if they were looking for leaders who would be complicit in spreading the big lie, I wasn’t their person, that there were plenty of other people that would do that. I think that it is fundamentally dangerous. I think it’s wrong, and I think as Republicans, especially, we have a responsibility to stand up and to say we believe in the Constitution, we will fight for that, we will fight for the rule of law and to build a foundation so that we can get back the voters we lost in 2020. I mean, that is really a key here. We lost the House, the Senate, and the White House while Donald Trump was president. We’ve got to get voters back so we can get Republicans back into position where our policies are the ones that are, you know, in place, that, frankly, are the ones that are necessary for the future of the nation.
WALLACE: I’ve got about a minute left, Congresswoman. I want to talk about you, finally. You were on track to perhaps someday be the Speaker of the House. Now that’s over, you’ve been removed from leadership. Your re-election next year in Wyoming is at least in question. I guess the question I have for you is, are you prepared to make this, politically, the hill you’re prepared to die on?
REP. CHENEY: Look, I cannot imagine a more important issue than whether or not the Republican Party is going to be a party that embraces and defends the rule of law and the Constitution. I am firmly committed to being part of leading this party back to a place where we believe and advocate on behalf of policies and substance, where we lay out an agenda that helps to attract voters back to the party, where we move away from this loyalty that so many, particularly in our House leadership now, have apparently pledged to Donald Trump — the president who provoked the attack on the Capitol and who refused to send help. So, I think that what we have seen over the course of the last couple of weeks is really the opening salvo in what is a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, a battle for the soul of our democracy. And I intend to play a very big role in that, to do everything I can to help ensure that we can restore our party.
JONATHAN KARL: What does it say about the party choosing somebody to replace you who was effectively chosen by Donald Trump and is saying what he’s been saying — those very lies that you have been talking about?
REP. LIZ CHENEY: I think it’s dangerous. I think that we have to recognize how quickly things can unravel. We have to recognize what it means for the nation to have a former president who has not conceded, and who continues to suggest that our electoral system cannot function, cannot do the will of the people. To cause that kind of questioning about our process, frankly, it’s the same kinds of things that the Chinese Communist Party says about democracy, that it’s a failed system, that America is a failed nation. I won’t be part of that, and I think it’s very important for Republicans who won’t be part of that to stand up and speak out.
KARL: When you say dangerous, dangerous how? Are you suggesting that January 6th could happen again or maybe something worse?
REP. CHENEY: I think there’s no question. I mean, we’ve now seen the consequences. We’ve seen how far the president, President Trump, was willing to go. We’ve seen not only his provocation of the attack, but his refusal to send help when it was needed, his refusal to immediately, you know, say, “stop”, and that in and of itself, in my view, was a very clear violation of his oath and of his duty.
KARL: How concerned should Republicans be about the fact that you’ve lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections?
REP. CHENEY: Very concerned. I think that as a party, we really do have to say, “what do we stand for? What do we believe in?” We also have to stop — and look, I think the Democrats need to stop doing this too — we have to stop incentivizing unserious behavior among our elected officials. We have to stop incentivizing vitriol, we have to stop incentivizing people to show up here and think, you know, the goal is to be a social media star.
KARL: I’ve seen other Republicans over the past 4-and-half years who have stood up to Donald Trump. Jeff Flake comes to mind, Bob Corker comes to mind, there are others, and they’re gone. I mean, he won. They came out, they made the statement, they stood up to him, and they were effectively run out of Republican politics. Why will it be any different with you?
REP. CHENEY: One thing that will make it different is January 6th. This isn’t about policy. It’s not about whether you like his tweets or you don’t like his tweets. It’s about the attack on the Capitol, and the fundamental attack and continued — and that’s important — continued assault on the foundations of the Republic. Once January 6th happened, that’s the end, and that has been, I think, the most disappointing thing to me, that more of my colleagues have not been willing to stand up and say that can never happen again.
KARL: Well, in fact, what we heard this week is we saw members of the Republican Party in the House basically deny it happened. We saw one Republican Congressman say that the protesters were orderly. Another one said they saw no evidence that Trump supporters were actually among the rioters. I mean, what does it say that some are able to erase the memory of what happened on January 6th?
REP. CHENEY: It’s indefensible. I will never forget seeing the law enforcement officers, the members of the S.W.A.T team, the rapid response forces, seeing them in their exhaustion, and they had been through hand-to-hand combat, and people died, and the notion that this — the notion that this was somehow a tourist event is disgraceful and despicable, and, you know, I won’t be part of whitewashing what happened on January 6th. Nobody should be part of it, and people ought to be held accountable.