Politics

Rep. Liz Cheney on Capitol riot select committee hearing, her future in the Republican party and

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The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot is made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The committee, which was established following a largely party-line vote, is investigating who and what led to the deadly attack on the Capitol.

Minority leader Kevin McCarthy pulled the five Republicans he recommended for the committee after Pelosi rejected two of his choices. Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney is one of the Republicans on the committee.  She was also one of 10 house Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump after the attack.

She joined “CBS This Morning” to discuss Tuesday’s hearing, the rift between the Republicans and why she feels it is important that the committee “gets to the bottom” of what happened on January 6. 

Read her full interview below

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CBS This Morning co-host Anthony Mason: Why are you defying the GOP leadership to participate in this investigation?

Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney: Look, I think some things must be about politics and getting to the bottom of what happened on January 6, making sure that the American people have all of the details of what led to that attack and what happened on that day. Doing everything we need to do to preserve and protect the Constitution, the rule of law to ensure that type of attack never happens again and that the people who did it are held accountable. Those are things that have to be above politics and have to be above partisanship. I believe my duty and my oath to the Constitution is very clear and I think that we all have to play a role in making sure this never happens again.

Mason: The committee is technically bipartisan but a lot of your fellow GOP members did not want this investigation to happen. Does this feel kind of surreal to you that a mob attacks the Capitol and a good part of Congress does not want to investigate this?

Cheney: You know, it feels sad to me, Anthony. If you go back and look at what many of my colleagues, probably almost all of my colleagues said about this attack in the days just after it, it was clear that they all understood then what had happened. They understood the consequences, they understood how grave it was that we had an attack on the Capitol while we were counting electoral votes. They understood how important it was no help came, the president did not send help while the attack was underway. Those were things that everyone understood and said publicly in many cases in the days just after the attack. What to me is sad is just how many people’s views seem to have changed. How many people are playing politics with the most serious attack on our Capitol since 1814.

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CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King: Well, they do see seem to have selective amnesia, Congresswoman Cheney. Why do you think that is?

Cheney: You know, you’d have to ask them, Gayle. I just think that it’s not worthy of these offices that we hold. You know, when you are elected to office, when you take the oath, your obligation and responsibility above all else is to protect the Constitution and the extent to which people are now putting politics ahead of that is to me a really dangerous sign for the nation. It’s something that we, those of us who recognize and understand it’s wrong, need to stand up and make sure we do our duty.

King: Is it personally painful to you and hard for you to do your job when so many people in your own party are working so publicly against you?

Cheney: No. Look, I really don’t think about it that way. I, you know, think about the four brave heroes we are going to see this morning, for example. The video that we’re going to see that demonstrates what they did to protect us, to defend us, to defend our constitutional function. That’s what I think about. And I also think about my kids and I think about the future and our duty to make sure that we protect this republic and hand it to them. And so, you know, those are the things that I think we all need to be focused on and our individual obligation to do that is above everything else.

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CBS News’ correspondent Jericka Duncan: Congresswoman, some Republicans want this focus to be on the Democrats. In fact, one of your colleagues, Representative Jim Banks of Indiana, said that there were intelligence reports that the leadership of the Capitol Police were aware of. What do you make of this blame almost being shifted to Democrats as if they were responsible or should have done more?

Cheney: Look, I think that we need to look at all of these issues. If you look at the report that came out from the Senate committee that was bipartisan, it identified a number of intelligence failings on that day and ensuring that this doesn’t happen again means we have to look at both what happened, why the Capitol was not defended and protected with the resources it should have been. But at the end of the day, we had a mob attempt to invade the Capitol, did invade the Capitol in an attempt to stop us from counting electoral votes. The idea we can look away from that or whitewash it is really disgraceful in my view.

Mason: Congresswoman, you’ve been attacked by your own party. Leader McCarthy called you a “Pelosi Republican.” Do you feel you still have place in the Republican party? Have you or are you considering challenging perhaps former President Trump for the presidential nomination?

Cheney: You know, I am a conservative Republican. The first time I ever voted was in 1984 for Ronald Regan. I believe that this nation needs a strong Republican party. We need two strong parties. We need a Republican party that can win elections based on ideas and substance but we cannot be a party that embraces insurrection and we cannot be a party that embraces the big lie. We have to tell our voters the truth and we have to stand for principles and substance and engage in those battles that way. The partisan attacks that are coming right now, there really childish and they really do reflect a lack of either a lack of understanding or an attempt to cover up what happened that day and why it’s so important for us to get to the bottom of it.

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Mason: Would you consider a run for the presidency yourself? 

Cheney: I am very focused right now, Anthony, on the task we have ahead of which is making sure that something like January 6 never happens again. Telling the American people the truth and holding people who did this accountable and responsible. I think it’s the most important thing we’re doing.

King: Are some of your Republican colleagues telling you things differently behind closed doors than what they’re saying publicly?

Cheney: Absolutely. I mean, I think we’ve seen that…

King: Like what?

Cheney: People who recognize and understand. People who say thank you for what you’re doing. People who during the impeachment vote, for example, said that they were concerned about their own security. We’ve seen that all along. We’re in a really unprecedented moment in American politics and I think the American people need to really think about that, think about what it means that members of Congress feel that they can’t vote the way that their conscience dictates because they’re worried about violence. That is a moment we’ve not seen before certainly since the Civil War in this nation. So I think it is an unprecedented moment.

King: Doesn’t that bother you though? Don’t you want to say, okay, guys, men and women, put on your big boy pants and girl pants and stand with me to tell the truth instead of standing out there by yourself?

Cheney: Look, the numbers of people who will stand up for the truth, you know, I wish there were more but it doesn’t affect the rightness of doing this and it doesn’t affect my duty and I do think it’s very important, it’s important for voters as they’re watching this unfold to think about the kind of representation they want and to think about the gravity of the issues that this country’s facing and having leaders who will rise to that challenge and leaders who will deal with these issues seriously.

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