Washington, D.C. – This morning, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) joined NBC’s “Meet the Press” to discuss Vladimir Putin’s continued aggression in Ukraine and the additional steps that the United States should be taking to counter this invasion.
Watch the full interview here and see the transcript below:
CHUCK TODD: Congresswoman Liz Cheney has become something of an outlier in this version of the Republican Party. Cheney represents a more traditional, hawkish wing of the GOP from the Cold War era at a time when many of the party have followed former President Trump’s nationalist, isolationist, “America First” approach. And of course, Cheney has risked her own political survival by condemning Mr. Trump over January 6th and for simply agreeing to join the congressional inquiry on January 6th. We wanted to get her thoughts, though, on the war in Ukraine, and Liz Cheney joins me now. Congresswoman, welcome back to “Meet the Press.”
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Great to be with you. Thanks for having me, Chuck.
TODD: Let me start with a question that I asked the NATO Secretary General and that I also asked Senator Murphy, and I’ll ask you. The use of chemical weapons, is that a redline in your mind for whether NATO should at least intervene to protect civilians in some form in Ukraine?
REP. CHENEY: I think that it should be, Chuck. And I think that we in the West, the United States and NATO, we need to stop telling the Russians what we won’t do. We need to be very clear that we are considering all options, that the use of chemical weapons is certainly something that would alter our calculations. And we need to understand that we shouldn’t be in the business of — some have called it self-deterrence. Putin’s actions so far have demonstrated, first of all, that the Russian military is nowhere near as capable as the world perhaps thought it was, probably not as capable as Putin thought it was. And they need to understand that if the brutality here increases, the United States will contemplate and consider every possible range of actions along with our NATO allies. And I think that it’s important that they know that we will contemplate changing the calculation in terms of humanitarian challenges, the humanitarian devastation the Ukrainian people are facing.
TODD: Congresswoman, we seem to be in a bit of a conundrum with Putin. He is extraordinarily weak right now on one hand. It’s clear, as you just pointed out, his military is not what he thought it was, and yet, he is cornered, and he does have nuclear weapons. So, I guess the thing is, are you going to be comfortable if President Zelenskyy comes to some sort of truce with him that codifies some of Ukraine into his hands, essentially rewarding him for this aggression? What is that line we strike there, not rewarding him for aggression, but trying to get peace here?
REP CHENEY: Well, I think you’ve put your finger on that, Chuck. I think it’s very important that Putin not reap any rewards at all for this aggression. I think territorial gains would be a reward for him. I think that we cannot be in a situation where, you know, the security and the peace that has been guaranteed, really, since 1945 on the continent of Europe, certainly, suddenly now powers believe that by the kind of onslaught that you’ve seen, the kind of war crimes, the kind of brutality you’ve seen Putin unleash, that they can gain from that. So, I do think it’s critically important for the United States and for NATO to be clear. Obviously, we are going to support President Zelenskyy, but we need to be very clear we do not believe Putin should be able to gain, to benefit from the actions he’s taken.
TODD: It sounds like if you have a critique for the Biden Administration it’s less on the actions that have been taken and more on the rhetoric that they’ve said or not said. You know, for instance, allowing the appearance that Putin gets to dictate the terms of engagement here. Is there something more substantial you would be doing other than changing rhetoric right now?
REP CHENEY: Many things. First of all, I would completely stop the negotiations that are underway for re-entering this Iranian nuclear deal. It is absolutely indefensible to be in a situation right now where we’re, number one, contemplating giving the Iranians billions of dollars in sanctions relief, giving them a pathway to a nuclear weapon. That money is going to be used, not only to destabilize, probably, the world, not just the region. They’ll use it to help to fund terrorism and support it. It also benefits Russia directly. And Russia, as you pointed out, is organizing those talks as they lead the negotiations.
TODD: What do you think of Senator Murphy saying, “Cut the Russians out, do this deal without them” — is that possible?
REP CHENEY: Look, I just completely disagree with Senator Murphy’s concept that we should be doing this deal. It is wrong to be doing this deal no matter what. It is certainly indefensible with the Russians in the middle of it, given they are a pariah state, that Putin is a war criminal. Even if they weren’t in the middle of it though, this is absolutely the wrong time to be providing a windfall to the Iranians. And the deal does not stop them from getting a nuclear weapon, it actually gives them a pathway to a nuclear weapon. I think that those negotiations should stop immediately.
TODD: I want to ask you about — and I know you’ve been asked a version of this question before, but I want to put up what Adam Kinzinger said. He said he doesn’t regret many votes, but one that he does regret is he didn’t vote for the first impeachment that was involved with the Ukrainian situation. And I know what your answer has been in the past. You didn’t think the case had been made. But I’m curious — you’re on this January 6th Committee. You’ve seen all the different ways that circumstantially that President Trump reacted and reacted. In hindsight, does it not seem conceivable that he really did hold money hostage for his own political gain and that was, indeed, an impeachable offense?
REP CHENEY: You know, I believe, Chuck, all of us who were in positions of public trust have an obligation to the Constitution. And so, having sat through watching the hearings, watching the evidence that was put on for the first impeachment, at the end of the day the evidence that was put on didn’t make the case. The January 6th situation and attack is obviously something that is fundamentally different. We all watched that unfold in real time. We all lived through that attack. But I will say that the January 6th Committee is very much focused on lessons learned from that first impeachment and very much focused on making sure the American people have all of the facts and the truth about what happened.
TODD: Let me ask you about that, finally, just before I let you go, which is the public exposé that you guys are eventually going to do. Is this going to — you say it’s going to make recommendations. Are we going to — should we expect criminal referrals on this, and should we expect something — how much new do you think the public will learn that will actually change the way they thought about January 6th?
REP CHENEY: Well, I think, certainly, our first priority is to make recommendations. And we’re looking at things like, do we need additional enhanced criminal penalties for the kind of supreme dereliction of duty that you saw with President Trump when he refused to tell the mob to go home after he had provoked that attack on the Capitol? So, there will be legislative recommendations, and there certainly will be new information. I can tell you, I have not learned a single thing since I have been on this Committee that has made me less concerned or less worried about the gravity of the situation and the actions that President Trump took and also refused to take while the attack was underway.
TODD: Well, that’s quite a statement, and I think I’m going to let that stand as the end of this interview. Congresswoman Liz Cheney, I appreciate you coming on and sharing your perspective with us.
REP CHENEY: Thank you. Great to be with you. Thanks, Chuck.