Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., called on her colleagues to cut off former President Donald Trump as his second Senate impeachment trial is set to begin this week.
Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, was one of 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of impeaching Trump last month for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Cheney was censured by her state party over the vote and is facing a primary challenge, though she easily won a vote of confidence last week to remain House Republican Conference chair.
“We have to take a really hard look at who we are and what we stand for, what we believe in,” Cheney told “Fox News Sunday.” “I think that when you look at both [Trump’s] actions leading up to Jan. 6, that he was impeached in a bipartisan fashion, the fact that he lost the presidency, the fact that we lost the Senate. We have to be in a position where we can say we stand for principles, for ideals.”
“We should not be embracing the former president,” she added.
Cheney’s comments come after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago late last month and has since softened his language about Trump’s role in the riot.
Details are still in flux with the trial set to begin this week. Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement Sunday that the leader will “of course” accommodate a request from one of Trump’s attorneys, David Schoen, that the trial not proceed during the Jewish sabbath, which runs from sundown Friday through Saturday.
After a vote in which 45 Senate Republicans sought to declare Trump’s impeachment trial unconstitutional because he has already left office, it appears highly unlikely the former president will be convicted as at least 67 votes are needed to do so. But Cheney said that in terms of accountability for the former president’s role in the riot, the Senate trial “is a snapshot.”
“There’s a massive criminal investigation underway, there will be a massive criminal investigation of everything that happened on Jan. 6 and in the days before,” Cheney said. “People will want to know exactly what the president was doing. They will want to know, for example, whether the tweet that he sent out calling Vice President Pence a coward while the attack was underway, whether that tweet, for example, was a premeditated effort to provoke violence.”
“There are a lot of questions that have to be answered and there will be many many criminal investigations looking at every aspect of this and everyone who was involved, as there should be,” she said, adding, “We have never seen that kind of an assault by a president of the United States on another branch of government, and that can never happen again.”
Cheney said if she were a senator, she would weigh the evidence and arguments before reaching a conclusion, but said that what is already known was worthy of impeachment.
“What we already know does constitute the greatest violation of his oath of office by any president in the history of the country,” she said. “And this is not something that we can simply look past or pretend didn’t happen or try and move on. We’ve got to make sure this never happens again.”
Senate Republicans on Sunday continued to express doubt that the Senate would convict the former president.
During an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said that while he believes the trial is constitutional, a conviction is “very unlikely” and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told CBS’s “Face the Nation” of the trial: “The outcome is really not in doubt.”
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., told ABC’s “This Week” he believes Trump should not be convicted at the trial because “the Constitution does not anticipate the impeachment trial of a former president.”
Asked if he thinks the president should be held accountable for his conduct, Wicker said, “if being held accountable means being impeached by the House and being convicted by the Senate, the answer to that is no.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said during an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he believes the House “did an incredibly poor job of building a case before their impeachment vote.”
Cheney said much of the pushback she’s faced since voting for impeachment is a result of misinformation.
“They believe that [Black Lives Matter] and Antifa were behind what happened here at Capitol,” she said of the state party leaders who voted to censure her. That’s just simply not the case. It’s not true, and we’re going to have a lot of work we have to do. People have been lied to.”
“The extent to which the president, President Trump, for months leading up to Jan. 6 spread the notion that the election had been stolen or that the election was rigged was a lie, and people need to understand that,” she continued. “We need to make sure that we as Republicans are the party of truth and that we’re being honest about what really did happen in 2020, so we actually have a chance to win in 2022 and win the White House back in 2024.”