Rep. Liz Cheney, a top House Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump earlier this year, said Monday that it should be up to the Justice Department on whether to charge the former president for anything related to his actions on January 6.
Asked by CNN about the nearly 400 protesters at the US Capitol who have been or will be charged with crimes, Cheney — who, as Republican conference chairwoman, is the No. 3 member of House GOP leadership — did not say whether she thought Trump should be among them.
“That’s a decision that the Justice Department is going to have to make,” said the Wyoming congresswoman, speaking to reporters at a House Republican retreat just outside of Orlando. “There are ongoing criminal investigations, and those will play out.”
One of just 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump in January, Cheney said in a statement at the time defending her vote that the then-president “summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.”
Cheney said on Monday that she stands by her January statement. She also said it was “really important” for Congress to have a bipartisan commission to investigate and provide an accounting of the January 6 riot, similar to what happened after the Pearl Harbor attack, the John F. Kennedy assassination and the 9/11 terrorist attack.
“I think it’s very important that the January 6 commission focus on what happened on January 6 and what led to that attack,” Cheney said.
On that front, she broke with the House Republican leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, on the question of the scope of such a commission. McCarthy told Fox News’s Chris Wallace on Sunday that a commission should expand its scope to include other instances of violence at the Capitol, including an unrelated incident that led to the death of a Capitol police officer earlier in April.
McCarthy said the commission should include inquiries into the death of US Capitol Police officer William Evans, who was rammed by a car while guarding an entrance to the Capitol grounds and died of multiple blunt force injuries to the head.
“You’ve had political violence for the last year in this building,” McCarthy said Sunday. “You had on Good Friday, an officer killed for political belief right on the Capitol as well. If you’re going to put a commission together, why wouldn’t you look at all the problems?” CNN has not confirmed the motivations for the attack that lead to Evans’ death.
“I think that what happened on January 6 is unprecedented in our history and I think that it’s very important that the commission be able to focus on that,” she said Monday. “I am very concerned, as all my colleagues are, about the violence that we saw, the BLM, the Antifa violence last summer. I think that’s a different set of issues, a different set of problems, and a different set of solutions.”