Reps. Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney, chair and vice chair of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, are not ruling out the possibility of concluding that the actions of former President Donald Trump and some of his associates constituted a crime.
Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper inside the Capitol on the anniversary of the attack, Cheney lamented on Thursday how Trump had “watched the attack happen on television.”
“The president of the United States is responsible for ensuring the laws are faithfully executed; he’s responsible for the security of the branches. So for the President to, either through his action or inaction, for example, attempt to impede or obstruct the counting of electoral votes, which is an official function of Congress, the committee is looking at that, whether what he did constitutes that kind of a crime,” the Wyoming Republican said. “But certainly it’s dereliction of duty.”
Thompson similarly noted that the former President’s attempts to undermine the 2020 election results are a key part of the panel’s probe. And asked if he believed that officials in the inner circle of the White House had conspired to undermine the election results, the Mississippi Democrat replied, “No question.”
“Look – Donald Trump is an open book. Everyone watching this show, they have an opinion of it. He is not known to tell the truth, he is known to promote lies,” Thompson said. “But in this instance he invited people to Washington, on January 6, and at the end of his invitation he said it was ‘going to be wild.’ Little did we know it would be as wild as it was.”
The select committee is now sketching out its strategy for 2022, including preparing for a series of public hearings intended to address Trump’s continued false claims that the 2020 election was somehow fraudulent.
The hearings are expected to be followed by an interim report over the summer and a final report in the fall ahead of November’s pivotal midterm elections. The goal will be to establish a definitive narrative about what happened on January 6 and propose legislative recommendations to prevent such an attack from happening again.
‘A very dangerous place as a party’
Cheney, one of just two Republicans serving on the select committee, on Thursday also derided the direction of the GOP, saying, “I think that right now we have a cult of personality. We have too many people in the party who have decided to embrace the former President.”
“Right now my party is not embracing truth, is not embracing substance and seriousness,” she said.
Asked about the prospect of Trump being the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, Cheney said that “what we saw him do after the election, what we saw him do on the 6th, are absolutely disqualifying.”
Cheney and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, were the only two Republicans on the House floor earlier Thursday during a remembrance of the attack.
“The importance of January 6 as an historic event cannot be overstated,” Dick Cheney said in a statement. “I was honored and proud to join my daughter on the House floor to recognize this anniversary, to commend the heroic actions of law enforcement that day, and to reaffirm our dedication to the Constitution.”
The former vice president said he was “deeply disappointed at the failure of many members of (his) party to recognize the grave nature of the January 6 attacks and the ongoing threat to our nation.”
Reflecting on Dick Cheney’s appearance, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said his visit “was quite a statement on his part. One that was well received by the rest of us.”
“We’ve had our disagreements, but never a disagreement as to whether everybody was committed to honoring our oath of office,” the California Democrat told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, adding that she wishes Republicans “would take back their party.”
CNN’s Annie Grayer contributed to this report.