Washington, DC – Wyoming Congresswoman and Vice Chair of the January 6th Select Committee Liz Cheney (R-WY) was interviewed by Jonathan Karl on ABC’s “This Week” and discussed the ongoing threat posed to the nation by Donald Trump, the continued work of the Select Committee, and more.
Watch video of the interview here and see a complete transcript below:
JONATHAN KARL: This wasn’t just losing a House seat. You were in leadership. You were considered a future Speaker of the House, a potential future – maybe even the next Speaker of the House. It’s a lot to give up. Any regrets?
REP. CHENEY: No regrets. You know, I feel sad about where my party is. I feel sad about the way that too many of my colleagues have responded to what I think is a great moral test and challenge of our time, a great moment to determine whether or not people are going to stand up on behalf of democracy and on behalf of our Republic.
KARL: And I understand you heard from President Biden.
REP. CHENEY: I did hear from President Biden. We had a very good talk, a talk about the importance of putting the country ahead of partisanship. And I’ve heard from a number of other people, as you can imagine, over the course of the last several days.
KARL: And some of your Republican colleagues here in the Congress?
REP. CHENEY: Some, yeah.
KARL: There were 10 of you that chose to vote to impeach. Did you hear from them after you lost?
REP. CHENEY: Yeah.
KARL: All of them?
REP. CHENEY: Yep.
KARL: And describe that bond, because I imagine that’s going to last long after you leave Congress.
REP. CHENEY: You know, we have differences of opinion, among the 10 of us about a whole range of issues, of other issues. But the fact that we all made the decision we did and have faced the consequences for that decision will be a bond, I would imagine, forever.
KARL: What does your defeat say about Trump’s hold on the Republican Party?
REP. CHENEY: I think, one, it says that people continue to believe the lie. They continue to believe what he’s saying, which is very dangerous. I think it also tells you that large portions of our party, including the leadership of our party, both at a state level in Wyoming, as well as on a national level with the RNC, is very sick. And that you know, we really have got to decide whether or not we’re going to be a party based on substance and policy or whether we’re going to remain, as so many of our party are today, in the grips of a dangerous former president.
KARL: In addition to Trump’s gloating about your loss, his spokesperson said, “She may be fighting for principles, but they are not the principles of the Republican Party.” I mean, arguably, he’s right. Isn’t he?
REP. CHENEY: Well, doesn’t that tell you something? You know, what I’m fighting for is the Constitution. What I’m fighting for is a perpetuation of the Republic. What I’m fighting for is the fact that elections have to matter and that, when the election is over, and the courts have ruled and the Electoral College has met, that the President of the United States has to respect the results of the election. And if Donald Trump’s spokesman says that those are principles that are inconsistent with Donald Trump’s views and inconsistent with the Republican Party’s views, I think ought to give every American pause about who Donald Trump is and about what the Republican Party stands for today.
KARL: So, this is obviously not the end, this is a new beginning for you. You’re starting this political organization. What can you tell us? What are you going to do?
REP. CHENEY: I’m going to be very focused on working to ensure that we do everything we can not to elect election deniers. And I’m going to work against those people, I’m going to work to support their opponents. I think it matters that much.
KARL: Will you be getting involved in campaigns against those Republican candidates that are challenging or denying the results of the election?
REP. CHENEY: Yes.
KARL: Including your Republican colleagues here in Congress?
REP. CHENEY: Yes.
KARL: Is the country better or worse off if Kevin McCarthy is the next Speaker of the House?
REP. CHENEY: Well, my views about Kevin McCarthy are very clear. The Speaker of the House is the second in line for the presidency. It requires somebody who understands and recognizes their duty, their oath, their obligation. And he’s been completely unfaithful to the Constitution and demonstrated a total lack of understanding of the significance and the importance of the role of Speaker. So, I don’t believe he should be Speaker of the House. And you know, I think that’s been very clear.
KARL: So, it sounds like that’s a yes. You think the country would be worse off if he were Speaker of the House.
REP. CHENEY: I don’t believe he should be Speaker of the House.
KARL: You told me a little over a year ago that you didn’t think Donald Trump could win the Republican nomination again. You said there are millions and millions of Republicans that wouldn’t let that happen. Do you still believe that?
REP. CHENEY: Yeah. I think we have to make sure that he is not our nominee. I do believe that there are millions of Republicans out there, and Independents and Democrats as well. And I think that, you know, I believe in Republican policies. I believe, if you think about where the country needs to go, what’s best for our nation, I believe in a strong national defense, certainly, today more than ever, we need that to confront the threats we face. I believe in low taxes. I believe in limited government. I believe the family should be the center of our lives in our communities. Those are traditional Republican values, and I believe that’s what we need going into the future. We have no chance at winning elections if we are in a position where our party has abandoned principle, and abandoned value and abandoned fundamental fidelity of the Constitution, in order to embrace a cult of personality. And I think that’s really dangerous for a whole bunch of reasons.
KARL: But is the threat Trump or is it bigger than Trump? I mean, you could argue that Trumpism, in terms of the election denying and all of that, is – has taken over the party.
REP. CHENEY: Donald Trump is certainly the center of the threat. But election denial, denying a fundamental function and principle, you know, the – what is at the center of our constitutional Republic – is dangerous, broadly speaking. And he is certainly leading that effort and leading that movement. And he also, because we know precisely what he will do, because he has done it. You know, sending an armed mob here to the Capitol to try to overturn the results of an election. There’s just simply no way that the nation can, in my view, sustain itself if we excuse that and put him in a position of power again.
KARL: If January 6th can’t convince Republicans to reject Donald Trump, what can?
REP. CHENEY: Well, I think as a nation, whether we’re Republicans or Democrats or Independents, we all have to reject that. We can agree that there are certain issues we’re never going to agree on politically, but we have to come together, you know, across those party lines in order to protect ourselves against that kind of threat.
KARL: So, you’ve said you’re going to work against election deniers. If it’s not Trump and if it’s somebody like Ron DeSantis, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, these are all people that have tied themselves very closely to Trump, will you oppose them? Could you see yourself supporting any of them?
REP. CHENEY: It would be very difficult. When you look at somebody like Josh Hawley or somebody like Ted Cruz, both of whom know better, both of whom know exactly what the role of Congress is in terms of our constitutional obligations with respect to presidential elections. And yet, both of whom took steps that fundamentally threatened the constitutional order and structure in the aftermath of the last election. So, you know, in my view, they both have made themselves unfit for future office.
KARL: What about DeSantis?
REP. CHENEY: DeSantis is somebody who is, right now, campaigning for election deniers. And I think that is something that I think people have got to have real pause about. You know, either you fundamentally believe in and will support our constitutional structure, or you don’t.
KARL: So, you’ve said that you’re going to think about running for president. Would you be running to send a message or would you be running to win?
REP. CHENEY: No. Look, you run for president because you believe you would be the best candidate, because you believe you’d be the best president of the United States. And so, any decision that I make about doing something that significant and that serious would be with the intention of winning and because I think I would be the best candidate.
KARL: Would your path be inside the Republican Party or outside the Republican Party?
REP. CHENEY: I haven’t made any specific decisions or plans about that at this point.
KARL: So, running as an independent is a possibility? Is it one of the things you’re thinking about?
REP. CHENEY: I’m not going to go down that path anymore in terms of speculating.
KARL: It sounds like the RNC is already trying to figure out ways to keep you out. You know, there’s this idea that to get into any debate you have to promise that you would support the eventual nominee. I mean, that’s obviously not going to happen. You’re not going to do that.
REP. CHENEY: I can understand why they would not want me on a debate stage with Donald Trump. And I would imagine Donald Trump isn’t too interested in that either.
KARL: So, let’s talk about the Committee. One of the key figures here is obviously Mike Pence. He said this week he’s willing or willing to consider testifying if he is asked. Are you going to ask him?
REP. CHENEY: So, we’ve been in discussions with his counsel. When the country has been through something as grave as this was, everyone who has information has an obligation to step forward. So, I would hope that he will do that.
KARL: So you think we’ll see him here in September in this room before the Committee?
CHENEY: Well, I would hope that he will understand how important it is for the American people to know every aspect of the truth about what happened that day.
KARL: What about Trump? Before you wrap up, will you ask him to testify?
REP. CHENEY: I don’t want to make any announcements about that this morning. So, let me just leave it there.
KARL: But it’s possible you would ask him, before wrapping up, to testify?
REP. CHENEY: Yeah. I mean, I don’t, again, I don’t want to get in front of Committee deliberations about that. I do think it’s very important, as I said in the first hearing or the second hearing, you know, his interactions with our Committee will be under oath.
KARL: The Republicans have said that they’re going to use their subpoena power to subpoena all the records of the January 6th Committee. Are you concerned about that? And do you expect that all the material – you’ve got so much material. Is the Committee going to make all that public anyway?
REP. CHENEY: Yeah, it’s all public record. It will be available publicly as our investigation wraps up and concludes. And if Kevin McCarthy, or Jim Jordan or any of the other individuals threatening to investigate the Committee carry through on that threat and issue a subpoena for me to appear, I will abide by that subpoena. And I will welcome the opportunity to come and explain to them exactly what we found and the threat that Donald Trump poses to the country. And I would say, you know, they ought to do the same.
KARL: The execution of the search warrant by the FBI in Mar-A-Lago, what was your reaction when you first heard about that?
REP. CHENEY: That it’s a very serious thing. I think that when you think about the fact that we were in a position where the FBI, the Department of Justice, felt the need to execute a search warrant at the home of a former president, that’s a really serious thing for the nation. I was ashamed to hear Republicans immediately and reflexively attack the FBI agents who executed a search warrant. I, you know, was disgusted when I learned that President Trump had released the names of those agents when he released the unredacted search warrant. And that has now caused violence, we’ve seen threats of violence. The judge, himself, his synagogue had to cancel services because of threats of violence. This is a really dangerous moment.
KARL: At the heart of those attacks from your fellow Republicans on the FBI and on DOJ is the idea that this was politically motivated. Are you entirely confident that there was no political motivation behind this by the Biden Administration or by the Attorney General?
REP. CHENEY: I’ve seen no evidence that there was any political motivation. You’ve now got, you know, the judge reviewing whether or not the affidavit or portions of it will be released. I think that will provide us additional information. It also seems to be the case that there were clearly ongoing efforts to get back whatever this information was and that it was not presented – you know, that the former president was unwilling to give back these materials. Now, we will see. We’ll learn more. But you know, it’s a really serious thing. And I just think that for us as a party to be in a position where we’re reflexively attacking career law enforcement professionals in order to defend a former president who conducted himself the way this one did – it’s a really sad day for the party.
KARL: Could it be that his handling of government records, classified information, that that could be what brings Donald Trump down after all of this?
REP. CHENEY: I mean, look, we’ll see. Everyone has an obligation and a responsibility. And you know, clearly, the handling of classified information is something that’s really serious.