An outspoken Trump critic, Cheney chided GOP members she said have made themselves “willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.” Now, she said, they face a choice.
“Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution,” she said.
The statement was met with applause.
Cheney’s remarks come as the Jan. 6 House select committee holds hearings to investigate the deadly assault on the Capitol and how Trump and his allies sought to overturn the 2020 election. As vice chair of the committee, Cheney has taken a lead role in the investigation.
Once a rising star in the GOP, Cheney’s criticism of Trump has come at great political cost. She was ousted from her leadership role last year for challenging Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen, and she was later disavowed by the Wyoming Republicans. Cheney also faces an uphill battle in her fight to keep her congressional seat. Up against a Trump-backed primary challenger, Cheney is seeking to woo Democratic voters, The Washington Post reported.
At Wednesday’s event, a speaker series titled “A Time For Choosing” hosted by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, Cheney said threats to American democracy are growing and the country stands “at the edge of an abyss.”
“As the full picture is coming into view with the Jan. 6 committee, it has become clear that the efforts Donald Trump oversaw and engaged in were even more chilling and more threatening than we could have imagined,” she said, highlighting recent testimony claiming Trump wanted to lead the armed mob to the Capitol last year.
The bombshell testimony was delivered by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, on Tuesday during a surprise committee hearing. Cheney praised Hutchinson, saying her “bravery and her patriotism yesterday were awesome to behold.” Trump has denied Hutchinson’s claims.
Since the start of the hearings this month, Cheney has stressed that the GOP faces a crossroads, telling fellow Republicans that some in their party are “defending the indefensible” and that there “will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”
She repeated that theme on Wednesday.
“No party and no people and no nation can defend and perpetuate a constitutional republic if they accept a leader who’s gone to war with the rule of law, with the democratic process, or with the peaceful transition of power — with the constitution itself,” Cheney said.