- Liz Cheney in a searing Monday speech skewered Trump and members of the Republican Party.
- Cheney suggested that Mike Pence was “essentially” the acting president on January 6, 2021.
- “White House staff knew it, and so did every Republican and Democratic leader in Washington,” she said.
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney delivered a searing indictment of former President Donald Trump and members of the Republican Party on Monday in one of her first speeches since her primary defeat last month.
Cheney this week gave the Walter Berns Constitution Day lecture at AEI, a center-right economic think tank in Washington DC, warning that America’s freedom is in a perilous position and urging the country to hold Trump accountable for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot.
Cheney, as the top Republican on the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection, has long been one of the few outspoken GOP critics of Trump — a stance that ultimately cost her her congressional seat after Trump spent months propping up her Republican challenger.
“I hope you all heard the testimony in our select committee hearings of Pat Cipollone, corroborated by Cassidy Hutchinson and others on President Trump’s White House staff,” she said. “Testimony that President Trump was the only person who refused to respond to desperate calls for help, even from his own congressional allies. He refused to come to their aid.”
Several witnesses, including Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the committee that they were puzzled by Trump’s inaction as rioters stormed the US capitol on January 6.
In her speech on Monday, Cheney suggested that Trump’s second-in-command, Mike Pence, stepped into his superior’s role.
“If you watched our hearings closely, you understand that Vice President Mike Pence was essentially the president for most of that day,” she said. “White House staff knew it, and so did every other Republican and Democratic leader in Washington.”
After Trump assailed Pence on Twitter for refusing to reject Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden, rioters throughout the Capitol began chanting “hang Mike Pence.” Hutchinson testified earlier this summer that Trump defended the insurrectionists’ call for violence, saying that “Mike deserves it.”
In his recent autobiography, “So Help Me God,” Pence wrote that he was not afraid, during the events of January 6, but angry.
“I was angry at what I saw, how it desecrated the seat of our democracy and dishonored the patriotism of millions of our supporters, who would never do such a thing here or anywhere else,” Pence wrote.
According to “The Divider,” a new book by Peter Baker of The New York Times and Susan Glasser of The New Yorker, Trump has said he would not pick Pence to be his running mate if he launches a 2024 campaign.
“It would be totally inappropriate” to pick Pence as his running mate, Trump said, according to the book. “Mike committed political suicide,” the former told Glasser and Baker.
In her speech, Cheney also urged people to rewatch testimony from the committee’s summer hearings and listen to what several of Trump’s former officials said about the then-president’s post-2020 actions while under oath.
“How could Trump’s refusal to act, his betrayal or our Republic, of our Constitution, of our principles, come with no cost?” she said.