Liz Cheney pushes the DOJ to charge Trump, says passing on prosecution if there's enough evidence risks the US no longer being 'a nation of laws'
Rep. Liz Cheney said the evidence is there for the DOJ to charge Donald Trump over the Capitol riot.
Cheney said Trump is guilty of "the most serious dereliction of duty of any president."
She said that prosecutors avoiding a case could threaten the US reputation for integrity.
Rep. Liz Cheney on Thursday said that DOJ prosecutors risk harming the US reputation as "a nation of laws" if they do not charge former President Donald Trump despite there being sufficient evidence.
In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Cheney said the "facts and the evidence are there" to sustain charges against Trump over the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Cheney is part of a committee investigating the riot, which has produced evidence is says shows Trump is to blame for the attack.
Trump is "guilty of the most serious dereliction of duty of any president in our nation's history", she said, and cited federal court judge David Carter concluding in March that Trump and conservative attorney John Eastman had likely committed crimes in seeking to overturn the result of the 2020 election.
She said the Jan. 6 committee will "continue to follow the facts. I think Department of Justice will do that. But they have to make decisions about prosecution."
"Understanding what it means if the facts and the evidence are there, and they decide not to prosecute — how do we then call ourselves a nation of laws? I think that's a very serious, serious balancing," Cheney said.
The committee has alleged that Trump relentlessly pushed claims that the election had been stolen from him even though he knew, or should have known, they were false. These claims resulted in supporters attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in a bid to halt Biden's certification as president.
Witness Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House , has claimed that Trump knew supporters were armed, and wanted to join them in marching on the Capitol. Others have testified that people in Trump's circle played key roles in arranging the protest.
The Jan. 6 committee, after winding up its investigation, could make a criminal referral of Trump to the Justice Department.
Such a move would not obliged the DOJ to act, but would pressure Merrick Garland, the attorney general, to make the unprecedented decision of whether to charge a former president, Trump, with a criminal offense.
The Justice Department is pursuing a separate investigation into the Capitol riot and bid to overturn the 2020 election, and this week subpoenaed Pat Cipollone, the former White House counsel. That move indicated that its probe had begun to touch on former members of Trump's inner circle. This is a separate route to a possible Trump indictment.
Trump has denied wrongdoing in relation to the riot, and says he sincerely believes his election-fraud claims.
Some have suggested that charging Trump could galvanize his supporters and empower him as he gears up another bid for the presidency in 2024.
However, Cheney said that political calculations should not be a factor in the decision over criminal charges.
"I don't think that it's appropriate to think about it that way," said Cheney.
Cheney has been ostracized from the GOP for taking a stand against Trump, and faces a Trump-backed challenger for a Wyoming congressional seat in the Republican primary in mid-August.