Cheney stressed that the committee’s goals were not political, but neither should the Justice Department refuse to indict Trump out of concerns about political optics if the evidence suggests criminal prosecution.
“I think it’s a much bigger constitutional threat if a president can engage in these types of activities and the majority of the president’s party turns away, or we as a nation decide determined that we would not really take our constitutional obligations seriously.” Cheney said.
Cheney went on to express serious concern about the idea of Trump running as a third GOP presidential candidate.
“I think there’s no question, I mean, someone as dangerous as Donald Trump could absolutely never be anywhere near the Oval Office again,” Cheney said.
The Republican Party will not survive if Trump is the presidential candidate in 2024, she said.
“Millions of people, millions of Republicans have been betrayed by Donald Trump. And it’s a really painful thing for people to realize and admit, but it’s absolutely right,” said Cheney. “And they were betrayed by him, by the ‘big lie’, and by what he continued to do and say to tear our country apart and divide our party.”
The interview is Cheney’s first since the committee on January 6 began holding public hearings, and it was taped days after Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, give testimony about bomb shells about Trump’s actions – and inactions – on the day of the Capitol attack.
Hutchinson testified last week that Trump knew that some of his supporters were armed but urged them to march on the Capitol anyway, and that he was said to be indifferent to the mob’s threats to hang Vice President Mike Pence.
“What kind of person knows that a mob is armed and sends mobs to attack the Capitol and continues to incite that mob when their own vice president is under threat? When Congress is under threat? ‘ said Cheney. “It’s very cold.”
Trump and his allies have since trying to discredit Hutchinson, but Cheney said she “completely trusts” the testimony of the former White House aide. Hutchinson also testified last week that Trump was “furious” when he was told he would not be able to travel to the Capitol with supporters after his Ellipse speech and she was told Trump rushed into his security details in a fit of rage while inside the presidential limousine.
When asked if the committee had more evidence to corroborate Hutchinson’s testimony, Cheney said the committee had “significant evidence on many issues, including the president’s intense anger” inside. presidential limo. Cheney bluntly suggested that anyone denying Hutchinson’s version of events must also testify before the committee under oath.
“What Cassidy Hutchinson did is an unbelievable example of bravery, courage and patriotism in the face of real pressure,” said Cheney. “The committee will not stand by as her character is assassinated by anonymous sources and by men demanding executive privilege.”
Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the only other GOP Member on the committee Jan. 6, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that there have been more witnesses since the hearings began. , even since Hutchinson testified.
“I don’t want to know anyone, or any of the details,” Kinzinger said. “Every day, we all have new people come in and say, ‘Hey, I don’t think maybe this part of the story I know is important.’ “
The January 6 committee interviewed two people who were inside the president’s limo at the time of the reported Trump outburst: Robert Engel, former head of details for the Trump Secret Service, and Anthony Ornato, physical security coordinator at the White House.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a member of the Jan. 6 committee, said Ornato’s memory “doesn’t appear to be as accurate” as Hutchinson’s, but hesitated when asked if Ornato had given his testimony to the committee under oath.
Representative Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), another member of the Jan. 6 committee, said Sunday that he could not go into detail about what Engel and Ornato had previously shared with committee but committee members would be interested in asking the two men to return to “unravel” what happened inside the president’s limo.
He added that the committee was also “in discussion” with lawyers for Pat Cipollone, a former White House adviser, whom the committee had previously interviewed but wanted to come forward for more testimony. Hutchinson testified last week that Cipollone warned of legal risks to Trump if he visited the Capitol on January 6.
“But the most important thing is this: There doesn’t seem to be any argument that the president was furious that he couldn’t accompany this armed crowd to the Capitol,” Schiff said on the “Face the Nation” channel. CBS. “That doesn’t seem to be disputed by anyone but Donald Trump, who, as we’ve seen in the past, has no credibility at all.”
Schiff said he agrees with Cheney that there could be more Trump criminal referrals to the Justice Department and that it would do more damage to the country if Trump were not investigated over concerns about political divisions. more treatment.
Schiff warned that if the Justice Department took the position that it could not investigate or prosecute a former president, it would elevate Trump to a man above the law.
“It’s a very dangerous idea that the Founders would never sign up for – I think even more dangerous in the case of Donald Trump,” Schiff said. “Donald Trump is a man who has shown that, when not held accountable, he continues to commit abuses of power that get worse and worse.”
The January 6 committee is continuing to explore any links between the Trump White House and the far-right white nationalist groups that were involved in the Capitol attack, he said.
“Our next hearing will focus on those crowdsourcing efforts on [National] Mall: Who participated, who sponsored it, how was it organized, including the involvement of these white nationalist groups like the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters and others,” Schiff said. . “I think we’ve got some answers, but there’s still a lot that we didn’t know we were going to learn.”
Nick Miroff contributed to this report.