The Wyoming congresswoman, and now former House Republican Conference chair, also didn’t rule out a run for president in the “Today” interview that aired Thursday morning, but she did confirm she will run for reelection for her US House seat next year.
Cheney said “silence is not an option” when speaking out against Trump, and she said admonishments from her fellow Republicans to move forward are not possible because the damage that the former president is causing is “an ongoing threat.” The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney reiterated her assertion Wednesday that Trump cannot become president again.
“He’s unfit,” she said. “He never again can be anywhere close to the Oval Office.”
“For reasons that I don’t understand, leaders in my party have decided to embrace the former President who launched that attack,” Cheney said. “And I think you’ve watched over the course of the last several months, the former President get more aggressive, more vocal, pushing the lie, and I think that’s a really important thing for people to understand. This isn’t about looking backwards. This is about the real-time current potential damage that he’s doing, that he continues to do.”
She added, “It’s an ongoing threat, so silence is not an option.”
Cheney lost her post in the House Republican leadership on Wednesday after publicly rejecting for months Trump’s lie that he won the 2020 presidential election and calling out the former President for his role in inciting the January 6 deadly riot at the Capitol. The House GOP conference ousted Cheney by voice vote during a 16-minute meeting, and she’s likely to be replaced by Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York.
Cheney said she is “very focused on making sure that our party becomes again, a party that stands for truth, and stands for fundamental principles that are conservative. And mostly stands for the Constitution and I won’t let the former President or anybody else unravel the democracy. Whatever it takes.”
She called the former President’s hold on the party “very dangerous” and “a cult of personality.”
“I think people were betrayed and misled by him,” Cheney said. “It’s a real betrayal. He’s going to unravel the democracy to come back into power.”
As for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Cheney said he is “not leading with principle right now” and called a recent visit to Mar-a-Lago to see the former President “stunning.”
She also placed blame at the feet of McCarthy, a California Republican, saying he is “not leading with principle, and I think that is sad and I think it’s dangerous.”
Cheney pressed fellow Republicans to embrace a bipartisan January 6 commission to get to the truth of what happened on that day, and that “there should be no reason why there should be any resistance.
“There is real concern among a number of members of my own party about a January 6th commission, and I think, you know, I have been very public that that commission needs to be bipartisan. It needs to look only at January 6th and the events leading up to it. Not at the BLM and Antifa riots last summer. I think that intense, narrow focus threatens people in my party who may have been playing a role they should not have been playing,” she said. “Each time we have something happen in this country that is that kind of a crisis, we have a commission, and there is no reason why there should be any resistance to doing so in this case.”
When asked if she was now going to play the role of the opposition leader in exile in the Republican Party, Cheney said she intended to help restore her party, and “in a fight to make sure that we won’t participate in a real dangerous effort that’s underway.”
But when pressed that she was now out of her leadership role, and that Trump seemed to be victorious in their recent skirmish and ascendant, Cheney quipped, “Actually, I’m in office and he’s out of office.”
CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report.
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