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In Aspen, Rep. Cheney stands firm on probe into Jan. 6 attacks

An Aspen crowd got an in-person peek Wednesday into Rep. Liz Cheney’s mindset that a full and thorough investigation is warranted into the Capitol attacks Jan. 6.

“I think that the American people have to know the details,” she said. “They have to understand how we got where we got, and people also need to think about what if it had succeeded.”

Speaking Wednesday in Aspen, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) didn’t waiver on her position that a full investigation is warranted into the Jan. 6 mob riots at the Capitol. (YouTube)

Cheney said she would have preferred a bipartisan commission over a select committee to investigate Jan. 6, but it didn’t clear the Senate. Regardless, she pledged to be nonpartisan in her work on the committee.

“I think the committee has to move expeditiously,” she said. “I think we need to issue subpoenas quickly. I think we need to make sure that we are prepared to enforce those subpoenas, and I can assure people that there will be a very full investigation. And patriotic Americans ought to step forth. They ought to come forward. People who know what happened that day in the White House, people who know what happened in the days leading up to that, they should come forward to the committee for the good of the country to talk about what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Subpoenas could yield additional details about the insurrection that have yet to emerge, she said.

“I think there is a lot we don’t already know,” she said. “We don’t know minute by minute what was going on that day. We don’t know, for example, what were the discussions that were going on with the Pentagon.”

Other unknowns include why the National Guard “took so long” to respond to the Capitol when it was being invaded and attacked, and “why the president didn’t take any other action,” said Cheney, adding “we need to know who was involved in the planning.” She called Vice President Mike Pence a “hero” for “what he did that day.”

After rioters were cleared from the Capitol that evening, Pence resumed leading the certification results of president-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Cheney, a Wyoming congresswoman, is one of two Republicans, along with Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, on the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection. During its first hearing held July 27, police officers spoke in horrific terms about what happened when hordes of Trump supporters — believing the November election was “stolen” from the former TV reality star — stormed the Capitol.

“It was mob, and you’ve seen the video now, attempting to tear people limb from limb,” Cheney told interviewer Eric Schmidt, also former chairman and CEO of Google, inside the Greenwald Pavilion on the Aspen Meadows campus. “And so when I hear my colleagues say it was a group of tourists, when I hear them say this was nothing to be afraid of, when I hear Donald Trump say the crowd was full of love, I think it is reprehensible and indefensible, and I think that all of us have a duty and a responsibility not to look away from the reality of that day and the reality of how we got to that day.”

Cheney voted with Donald Trump 92.6% of the time he was president and also voted to re-elect him in 2020. The daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney assumed office in January 2017 and has said she will seek re-election in the 2022 mid-terms.

Republicans removed her from her GOP leadership position after she impeached Trump over the insurrection, and Trump reportedly has been meeting with potential challengers to Cheney in next year’s primary. Cheney, however, said the insurrection probe is a search for the truth of what happened Jan. 6, also the byproduct of a fragmented America, part of which has drifted from the country’s democratic principles.

“I look at this moment that we have arrived at and I think in many ways that we need to have a very serious, sustained national discussion about American history, about civics, about the Constitution and about the rule of law,” she said. “And when you look at what happened in the lead-up to Jan. 6, and look at what happened on Jan. 6, and when you look at the response of my party in the days and weeks and now months afterwards, it’s very clear that some people are willing to accept what I think was a line that can never be crossed, and I think as Americans, for us it’s a moment where we have to put politics aside and we have to say ‘this isn’t about a policy debate, this isn’t about where you are on taxes or on government regulation or on national security issues; this is about the fundamental underpinnings of our society.’”

Among the Republican colleagues at odds with Cheney about the handling of Jan. 6 is Lauren Boebert, a freshman congresswoman from Rifle who represents Pitkin County in the 3rd Congressional District. Boebert also is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, which last week called for the expulsion of both Cheney and Kinzinger from the House Republican Conference for their participating in the investigation.

“They are a cancer to our party and to our caucus, and they must be expelled from our conference,” Boebert, a member of the caucus, was quoted as saying in a July 29 article in USA Today.

Wednesday’s talk was part of the Aspen Community Programs put on by The Aspen Institute.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com