Cheney: Addressing Capitol Attack ‘Matters Hugely To The Survival Of Our Country’

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 30: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., conduct a news conference on the China Task Force report in the Capitol’s Rayburn Room on Wednesday, September 30, 2020. The report outlines bipartisan action to combat threats from China. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) conduct a news conference in the Capitols Rayburn Room on September 30, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
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April 27, 2021 8:03 a.m.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on Monday pushed back on ongoing calls from Republicans to expand the scope of a proposed commission aimed at investigating the events of Jan. 6, suggesting that an effort to do so could undermine the gravity of the political violence that ensued when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.

“If we minimize what happened on Jan. 6th and if we appease it, then we will be in a situation where every election cycle, you could potentially have another constitutional crisis,” Cheney said in a Politico interview after the GOP kicked off its annual policy retreat in Florida. “If you get into a situation where we don’t guarantee a peaceful transfer of power, we won’t have learned the lessons of Jan. 6.”

“And you can’t bury our head in the sand,” she added. “It matters hugely to the survival of the country.”

The comments come after Cheney had broken publicly with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) during a press conference earlier on Monday, suggesting the Capitol attack was “unprecedented in our history,” and urging for a tight scope for a proposed commission investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) last week reportedly made a bid to continue negotiations over the Jan. 6 commission by offering an even number of Republican and Democratic members and equal subpoena power.

The two parties still diverge sharply on the scope of the commission — with a majority of Republicans including McCarthy insisting the commission should also examine violence that disrupted racial justice protests last summer and look into groups like Black Lives Matter.

McCarthy meanwhile has also continued to defend former President Donald Trump’s response to the Jan. 6 insurrection. During a Fox News interview on Sunday he claimed that Trump had been unaware that a mob of his supporters were storming the Capitol until McCarthy called and urged him to tell them to stop.

“I was the first person to contact him when the riot was going on,” McCarthy told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “He didn’t see it. What he ended the call with saying — telling me he’ll put something out to make sure to stop this. And that’s what he did. He put a video out later.”

The statement contradicted McCarthy’s initial response to Trump’s role in the attack and a fellow GOP lawmaker’s recollection of what had been a tense call between McCarthy and Trump. 

Former President Trump was absent from the retreat on Monday, sparking criticism from some lawmakers questioning why the ex-president had not been extended an invitation. Cheney has also pushed back on efforts by Trump loyalists in the House who appear eager to reinforce his influence over the party.

“I think right now, the Republican Party is headed by Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy in the House. I think our elected leaders, you know, are the ones who are in charge of the Republican party,” Cheney told reporters on Monday. “And I think as we look at ’22 and ’24, we’re very much going to be focused on substance and on the issues.”

Earlier this month, Trump teased endorsing an opponent to challenge Cheney’s reelection in 2022, suggesting he would “make an Endorsement soon.”

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