Nov 2, 2022
Rep. Liz Cheney on political violence, Jan. 6 committee and future of GOP Transcript
With the midterm elections one week away, Judy Woodruff sat down with Rep. Cheney and discussed the rising political violence and the attack on Paul Pelosi. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Political violence is on the rise. The January 6th committee continues its work and Americans are deeply divided on a host of issues. One key player in all of this, Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming, she spoke with Judy Woodruff earlier today.
Speaker 2 (00:16):
Amna, I sat down with Representative Cheney here in Cleveland at an event sponsored by the City Club and the PBS station here, Idea Stream Public Media. I started with a brutal attack on speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband. Just the latest example of political violence fueled by far right conspiracies. Congresswoman, I want to begin with something that is sobering at this time and that is the attack just a few days ago on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Paul Pelosi is still in the hospital. You’ve been a target of threats, you’ve had to hire additional security. How did we get to this place? We know the number of threats on lawmakers has more than doubled since 2017, why?
Speaker 3 (01:03):
Well first of all, I know all of our thoughts and prayers are with Paul Pelosi, with Speaker Pelosi, with their whole family. And I want to say a word about Speaker Pelosi. I did not really know her before I began work on the January 6th committee. I’m not sure if I had ever spoken to her actually. But since I have been on the committee, and I say this, everyone knows she is a liberal from San Francisco. I’m a conservative from Wyoming. There are many, many issues, maybe most issues on which we disagree. But I think that she is a tremendous leader. I’ve watched her up close, she’s a leader of historic consequence. She has put this committee together and demonstrated her commitment to the truth. And I think that the demonization that goes on on both sides, certainly Republicans have through the years demonized Speaker Pelosi. Democrats have demonized Republicans including my dad, and it all has to stop.
I think that when you see what’s happening in our country, when you watch the extent to which political violence or violence has become part of our political discourse, that’s road. We just can’t go down. And the fact that while Paul Pelosi was in ICU, had been brutally attacked, had a skull fracture and numerous other injuries, that there were members of my party mocking him. That there were members of President Trump’s family mocking him. That’s not who we are in this country, and that is disgraceful. And as Americans, we have to reject it.
The violence at the capital on January 6th was a direct result of Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen. And those claims, he continues to make those claims to this day. Others continue to make those claims to this day. And we know it’s entirely foreseeable that those will lead to violence. So as a nation, we all should be keeping the Pelosi family in our prayers. We all should recognize that we cannot go over an abyss of not being able to have the common human decency to stand against that violence, to condemn the violence, to pray for Mr. Pelosi and his family, and to reject those who are acting in a way that frankly is inhumane.
Speaker 2 (04:24):
The January 6th committee, which you’ve spent a great deal of time working on as Vice Chair, you’ve helped shape the direction of what the committee has done. How much more investigating is there to be done?
Speaker 3 (04:35):
Well, it’s the largest criminal case in the nation’s history. And of course the Justice Department is responsible for the criminal investigation. The committee itself has to conclude our work by the end of this year. But we have far more to do and we know a lot, we’ve interviewed more than a thousand individuals. Millions of pages of documents have been produced. And so it’s been a very significant undertaking and we will produce a report before the end of the year. Obviously we’ve had hearings that lay out what we know about what Donald Trump did, about his intent. Very clearly laid out with respects to each of the parts of this plan to overturn the election. But I think that the work of the Justice Department will certainly go on.
Speaker 2 (05:33):
So the committee has subpoenaed former President Trump. Should the committee allow him to testify in person live, if that’s what he says he’ll do?
Speaker 3 (05:43):
Well, the committee’s in discussions with President Trump’s attorneys, and he has an obligation to comply. And we treat this and take this very seriously. This is not a situation where the committee is going to put itself at the mercy of Donald Trump in terms of his efforts to create a circus. We haven’t made determinations about the format itself, but it’ll be done under oath. It’ll be done potentially over multiple days. We have significant questions based on the evidence that we’ve developed.
Speaker 2 (06:21):
Do you think the odds are that he will testify or not?
Speaker 3 (06:24):
I think that he has a legal obligation to testify, but that doesn’t always carry weight with Donald Trump.
Speaker 2 (06:31):
If you take them together, former President Trump, the people who deny that that President Biden won the election, the people who are defending what happened on January 6th, what do they all mean for American democracy?
Speaker 3 (06:45):
I differentiate between elected Republicans and Republican voters. I think that there are millions of Republican voters across the country who have been betrayed by Donald Trump. If you look at our elected officials on the Republican side, you certainly have some who believe the lies. I think that’s a very small number. But you have a significant number who know that the lies aren’t true, but who are accommodating them. And that’s really dangerous, because it leads to this question around the country, of people saying, “Well, if these really are lies, why aren’t there more Republicans saying so?” And if this really is a dangerous moment, why are people campaigning with some of the most dangerous election deniers? And they’re doing it for their own political purposes. And I think that is a dangerous moment for the country.
Speaker 2 (07:45):
Dangerous for our democracy.
Speaker 3 (07:46):
Speaker 2 (07:47):
You’ve said in a television ad that the Republican candidates for Governor and Secretary of State of Arizona are a threat to democracy. And you have made in the last few days your first endorsement of a Democrat. She’s Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. You’re going to be campaigning for her later today. This year you received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. President Kennedy said, “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much.”
Speaker 3 (08:17):
Well look, I think, I’ve been a Republican ever since I first cast a vote, which was 1984. And I don’t think I’ve ever voted for a Democrat. I’ve certainly never campaigned for a Democrat. But we are at a moment now where my party has really lost its way. And it’s lost it’s way in a way that’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because we’ve become beholden to a man who was willing to attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power. That’s never happened in this nation before. And my view is, if you really are a conservative, the most conservative of conservative principles is fidelity to the Constitution. And if you’re willing to overlook an attempt to steal an election, to overturn an election, to stop a peaceful transfer of power, then you are being unfaithful to the Constitution.
And I think given the moment we’re in, we can’t give power to people who have told us they won’t respect the outcome of elections. And that’s more important than any party belief. It’s more important than any policy. And we can have big debates about policy, but you can’t give somebody power if they’ve told you they’ll only honor an election if they like the outcome, because that is how the republic unravels.
Speaker 2 (09:44):
So that endorsement again and your campaigning for Congresswoman Slotkin today, we know here in the state of Ohio, bitter contest underway for the United States Senate seat. You’ve served six years in Congress with Tim Ryan. You’ve often voted differently from him. The Republican candidate here, JD Vance is a Trump loyalist. He says the 2020 election “Was not free and fair.” He said that some of the January 6th insurrections are political prisoners. And he said he doesn’t really care what happens to Ukraine. All that’s very different from Paul Ryan’s, I’m sorry, from Tim Ryan’s positions.
Speaker 3 (10:25):
And Paul Ryan’s too, by the way.
Speaker 2 (10:27):
So who do you prefer in this race?
Speaker 3 (10:35):
I would not vote for JD Vance.
Speaker 2 (10:43):
So if you were a Buckeye State voter, you’d be voting for Tim Ryan?
Speaker 3 (10:47):
Speaker 2 (10:48):
Are there other Democrats you might endorse between now and next Tuesday?
Speaker 3 (10:56):
Possibly Judy, I endorsed one just now five minutes ago.
Speaker 2 (11:08):
You’ve said of Republican House Leader, Kevin McCarthy, that “He’s willing to sacrifice everything for his own political gain. He’s been unfaithful to the Constitution.” You clearly would not be supporting him for Speaker or for Leader if you were voting on that, who would be the right Leader for Republicans in the house?
Speaker 3 (11:30):
I hesitate to give any names because I don’t think it would help them. But Ken McCarthy, he’s very consistent. Every single time he has had to make a choice between what’s right or his political future, he chooses his political future. And so the Speaker of the House is second in line to the Presidency. We need somebody much better to be Speaker of the House.
Speaker 2 (12:03):
Are you worried? I mean in just a few words, that there we will see a number of candidates next Tuesday who don’t concede?
Speaker 3 (12:10):
Yes, I am. And I’m worried that we could see a number of candidates elected in really important positions as Secretaries of State, as Governors who could decide that they are not going to certify results in 2024. And I think that that really ought to drive people as you go vote, to think about that. To think about what does it mean? You can disagree with somebody’s policies, but once you give power to somebody who won’t respect an election, you have to ask whether you’re going to get any other future elections.
Speaker 2 (12:44):
Just a few more. Liz Cheney’s future, what does it look like?
Speaker 3 (12:49):
I don’t like to talk about myself in the third person, always.
Speaker 2 (12:52):
All right, your future, I’ll put it in the second person. Your future, what do you envision and does it include a run for President in 2024?
Speaker 3 (13:03):
I don’t know the answer to that yet. I haven’t made that decision. I don’t think that’s the most important question. I think the most important question is whether or not as a nation, we’re going to do everything we have to do to preserve the republic. And that’s really what I’m focused on.
Speaker 2 (13:25):
If you did decide to run, would it be as a Republican or an independent?
Speaker 3 (13:30):
I haven’t made any decisions about whether I’m going to run or not, Judy.
Speaker 2 (13:35):
But you’re clearly giving it some thought. Didn’t you hear that? Okay and finally, next Tuesday, is it better for the country if Republicans take control of the house?
Speaker 3 (14:09):
When you look at a number of the people who are in the Republican conference today, people whose views were fringe two years ago, but who now have got tremendous power. I think that the American people need to understand these are not serious people. People Like Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who’ve appeared at white supremacist conferences, who’ve said things that are clearly antisemitic. Those people will have tremendous power in a Republican majority. And you’re already seeing what that means in terms of Kevin McCarthy being willing to placate them. And so I think that people just need to understand what it will mean to have a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. The people who will be running the House of Representatives in a Republican majority will give authority and power to some of the most radical members of the conference. And I don’t think that that’s good for the country.
Speaker 2 (15:21):
So you’re saying it’s better for the country if…
Speaker 3 (15:24):
I think I’ll leave it the way I said it.
Speaker 2 (15:28):
We heard you. And just finally, if Republicans do take control of the house, is that among other things, a validation of Donald Trump?
Speaker 3 (15:41):
Look, as I said, this is number one, a fundamental fight for the soul of the country, not just for the soul of the Republican Party. It’s a fight that we have to win because the stakes are so high. At the end of the day, I’m confident that Donald Trump and those who would thwart our democratic process will not prevail. And I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that’s the case.
Speaker 2 (16:10):
Representative Cheney also gave her critique of President Biden’s time in office. You can watch the entire event online at pbs.org/newshour and on our YouTube channel.