WASHINGTON — Rep. Liz Cheney launched a blistering assault on Donald Trump and his allies Monday, accusing Republican leaders of treating the previous president like a “king” by defending him at each flip in a federal investigation into labeled paperwork saved at his Florida property.
“Those that are defending Donald Trump — elected leaders of my social gathering — are actually prepared to sentence FBI brokers, Division of Justice officers, and faux that taking top-secret SCI paperwork and conserving them in a desk drawer in an workplace in Mar-a-Lago, or in an unsecured location wherever, was someway not an issue. They’re making an attempt to excuse this conduct,” Cheney, R-Wyo., mentioned in a speech on the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative suppose tank. (SCI is brief for “delicate compartmented data.”)
“Little by little, excuse by excuse, we’re placing Donald Trump above the legislation. We’re rendering indefensible conduct regular, authorized and acceptable — as if he have been a king,” Cheney added, citing what she mentioned was the willingness of some elected GOP officers to defend allegations of actions that contact on obstruction of justice.
Cheney, a vocal Trump critic and the vice chairwoman of the Home committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, has been shunned in some conservative circles. However on at the present time, she was the keynote speaker on the AEI’s annual Structure Day lecture, the place she obtained a standing ovation and laughter when she advised a narrative about how a Home GOP colleague had mocked Trump as “orange Jesus.” Cheney didn’t reveal the colleague’s identify.
Each of Cheney’s dad and mom — former Vice President Dick Cheney and Lynn Cheney — attended Monday’s speech, as did Bush-era conservatives like Peter Wehner and Paul Wolfowitz, in addition to Jeffrey Rosen, the previous performing legal professional basic who refused Trump’s order to assist him overturn the outcomes of the 2020 election.
Cheney, who misplaced her main for an additional Home time period and is flirting with a 2024 presidential bid, warned that Trump is encouraging his supporters to show to violence “to forestall his prosecution.”
“It’s exhausting to see this as something however a direct risk to our Structure, to our republic — and a reputable one at that,” she mentioned. “One can solely marvel, is that this the place the Republican Social gathering will go subsequent? That prosecution is inappropriate, as a result of MAGA will violently oppose it?”
Shortly earlier than her speech, Cheney launched election reform laws with Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., geared toward stopping one other Jan. 6 assault or a future try and overturn a presidential election.
The Presidential Election Reform Act would overhaul the Electoral Depend Act, the archaic 1887 legislation that governs the counting of electoral votes, which Trump and his allies tried to halt in a bid to remain in energy after he misplaced to Democrat Joe Biden. The Home might vote on the invoice this week.
However Cheney made it clear in her speech that the laws will not be meant to take the main focus off Trump’s motion’s.
“Nobody ought to take our effort to reform the electoral rely as any indication that Donald Trump didn’t violate the present legislation or didn’t violate the Structure,” she mentioned.
As she has accomplished repeatedly over the previous two years, Cheney knocked Trump for not calling off a mob of his supporters who have been attacking law enforcement officials and searching down members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6.
She praised Pence for his actions that day; he known as Protection Division officers for assist and returned to the Capitol to complete certifying the election outcomes.
“Mike Pence was basically the president for many of that day,” Cheney mentioned. “White Home employees knew it, and so did each different Republican and Democratic chief in Washington. How might Donald Trump’s refusal to behave, his betrayal of our republic, of our Structure, of our ideas, include no value?”
In a beforehand untold story, Cheney recounted how, on Jan. 6 earlier than the violence, she was within the Republican cloakroom simply off the Home flooring watching her GOP colleagues signal sheets of paper to object to the 2020 election outcomes for states like Arizona and Pennsylvania.
“And as I used to be sitting there, a member got here in and he signed his identify on every one of many state’s sheets. After which he mentioned underneath his breath, ‘The issues we do for the orange Jesus,’” Cheney mentioned, sparking some laughter from the viewers. “And I assumed, , you’re taking an act that’s unconstitutional.”
Haley Talbot contributed.