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Full transcript: Representative Liz Cheney on "Face the Nation," January 2, 2022

The following is the full transcript of an interview with Representative Liz Cheney that aired Sunday, January 2, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We now turn to the Congressional Committee investigating Jan. 6, Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming is the vice chair of the committee, and she joins us now from Capitol Hill. Good morning to you.

REP. LIZ CHENEY: Good morning, MARGARET. Thank you for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We know Democrats are planning a vigil. We know the former president is planning a news conference. Are you concerned about the country being at risk of political violence this week and in the years ahead?

REP. CHENEY: Look, I think that if- if what he has been saying since he left office is any indication, former President Trump is likely again this week to make the same false claims about the election that he knows to be false and the same false claims about the election that he knows caused violence on Jan 6. I think that it is indeed very concerning, given what we know happened in the lead up to the sixth and what the committee is finding out about the events of that day. But I think that it- it's not surprising. But again, he knows these claims caused violence and we've seen now people who were in the Capitol, people who've been arrested because of their activities on that day, they themselves have told us in court filings, they've told us on social media, we've seen it on videos; that they were here because Donald Trump told them to be here. And so, he's very- he's doing this press conference on the sixth. Again, if he makes those same claims, he's doing it with complete understanding and knowledge of- of what those claims have caused in the past.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've raised in the past the possibility of criminal culpability for the president. Is that the consensus view of the committee?

REP. CHENEY: Look, the committee is obviously going to follow the facts wherever they lead. We've made tremendous progress. We have had now- if you just think about, for example, what we know now about what the former president was doing on the 6th while the attack was underway. The committee has firsthand testimony that President Trump was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office, watching on television as the Capitol was assaulted as the violence occurred. We know that that is clearly a supreme dereliction of duty. One of the things that the committee is looking at from the perspective of our legislative purpose is whether we need enhanced penalties for that kind of dereliction of duty. But we've certainly never seen anything like that as a nation before.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But one of the things that we've seen in CBS polling is that there is just a hard percentage of the population that believes what the former president is claiming. Eight million people believe in violence to restore him to office. Seven out of 10 Republicans still believe President Biden's illegitimate 66% believe there was widespread voter fraud. So, these numbers are pretty hard here. Why hasn't this conviction abated within your party?

REP. CHENEY. Look, I think that- that we are in a situation where people have got to understand the danger of President Trump and the danger that he posed on that day. You know, if you think MARGARET, he- he could have simply walked a few feet to the White House briefing room, he could have gone immediately on live television and asked his supporters to stop what was happening, ask them to go home. He failed to do that. He- he instead, we know, had the motivation, at the same time, the violent assault was happening, he's watching television, he's also calling at least one senator urging delay of the electoral vote. So, this is a man who has demonstrated that he is at war with the rule of law. He's demonstrated that he's willing to blow through every guardrail of democracy, and he can never be anywhere near the Oval Office again. He's demonstrated a complete lack of fitness for office. I think one of the really important things that our committee has to do is lay these facts out for the American people so that they really have a sense of the truth of what happened that day.


REP. CHENEY: --And so that they inform us in terms of our legislative activity going forward.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That assumes facts can actually persuade. What happens with this committee if Republicans take the majority in 2022? Have you asked Kevin McCarthy to keep it?

REP. CHENEY: Look, Leader McCarthy has said a variety of things. He has both acted to obstruct the operations of the committee, but he's also, on a couple of occasions, said that he's willing to come talk to the committee. I think that the- the American people again and particularly the Republican Party, you know, we as Republicans, have a choice to make. I am a conservative Republican. I believe strongly in the policies of low taxes and limited government and a strong national defense. I think the country needs a strong Republican Party going forward, but our party has to choose. We can either be loyal to Donald Trump or we can be loyal to the Constitution, but we cannot be both. And right now, there are far too many Republicans who are trying to enable the former president, embrace the former president. Look the other way and hope that the former president goes away, trying to obstruct the activities of this committee. But we won't be deterred. At the end of the day, the facts matter, and the truth matters.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It goes beyond the former president, in a number of state capitals around the country in 19 different states, election laws are being changed and in some there is concern that Republican controlled legislatures could be able to change certification of an election if they don't like the outcome of it. This is undermining confidence among some in the public about the integrity of our elections. Would you ask your fellow Republicans in states around the country to stop trying to do that?

REP. CHENEY: Absolutely. I think that again, you know, as a nation, we've got to be founded on the rule of law. We've got to be founded on fidelity to the Constitution. And when you look at what former President Trump continues to do to this day in terms of trying to undermine our belief in our democratic process, in terms of trying to undermine the rule of law, in terms of trying to find local officials who will help him do that. One of the really important lessons we learned on January 6th was how important it was that we had a few individuals who stood up. We had individuals at the Department of Justice before Jan. 6 who stood up to the president who said, absolutely not, we will not claim that this election was stolen, who told him the truth. And we had local officials in the party, the Republican Party, who did the same. And so, I think for people all across the country, they need to recognize how important their vote is, how important their voice is. They've got to elect serious people who are going to defend the Constitution, not simply do the bidding of Donald Trump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But this is happening in 19 different states. As we mentioned there, there are efforts underway, but I want to come to the future in 2022 as we face elections, this isn't just about the presidential election, right? We have congressional races in 2022. You yourself are running out in Wyoming. We know the former president endorsed your primary opponent. He's promised to help campaign against you. You have one of his biggest donors, Peter Thiel, a billionaire throwing money behind your primary opponent. This is a direct challenge here. Given how red your state is, how do you expect to win that primary?

REP. CHENEY: Look, I am absolutely honored and privileged to be able to represent the people of Wyoming in Congress. I absolutely anticipate that we will have a very energetic and hard-fought campaign this year. But at the end of the day, I am also incredibly privileged to be able to stand up and defend the Constitution of the United States, and I'm confident that the people of Wyoming will not choose loyalty to one man. One man as dangerous as Donald Trump is, you know, imagine a man who, while the violent assault was underway, while he was watching television, watching it unfold, not telling his supporters to stop and go home instead was sending out a tweet saying that Mike Pence was a coward. This is a man who is simply too dangerous ever to play a role again in our democracy, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to help the American people see the facts about what happened and to continue to make the case at home about the kind of representation that we need in Washington for the people of Wyoming.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you be willing to run against him in 2024?

REP. CHENEY: I'm very focused right now on my re-election and on the work of the select committee, and I can tell you that that the single most important thing, though, is to ensure that the Donald Trump is not the Republican nominee and that he certainly is not anywhere close to the Oval Office ever again.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congresswoman Cheney, thank you for your time today. We'll be right back with the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. 

REP. CHENEY: Thank you, MARGARET. Good to be with you.

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