Liz Cheney suggests Donald Trump could face 'more than one' criminal referral

Not confronting former president would pose a 'much graver constitutional threat'

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Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney has suggested that former president Donald Trump could face “more than one” criminal referral for his actions following his defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 election and during the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

Ms Cheney, 55, has gained prominence on the national stage and notoriety within her Republican Party after speaking out against Mr Trump's refusal to accept to his loss and his lies about election fraud.

She is vice chairwoman and one of two Republicans on the House of Representatives committee investigating the deadly insurrection, and was one of 10 Republicans in the House who voted to impeach the former president for inciting the attack.

In comments broadcast on Sunday, Ms Cheney told ABC News that the panel could make a recommendation to the Justice Department that Mr Trump should be criminally prosecuted — although she noted that the department did not need to wait for such a move.

“The department doesn't have to wait for the committee to make a criminal referral. And there could be more than one criminal referral,” Ms Cheney told ABC News.

She acknowledged that a criminal prosecution would be fraught in divided America, particularly as the Justice Department is overseen by the Biden White House.

But not taking on a case against Mr Trump could pose a “much graver constitutional threat”, she said.

“If a president can engage in these kinds of activities and the majority of the president's party looks away, or we as a country decide we're not actually going to take our constitutional obligations seriously, I think that's a much a much more serious threat.”

She pointed to committee testimony that showed Mr Trump knew some of the January 6 demonstrators were armed, but egged them on to march on the Capitol.

Mr Trump has dismissed the committee's findings as partisan theatre.

Ms Cheney of Wyoming, daughter of Dick Cheney, also refused to rule out her own run for the presidency in 2024.

“I'll make a decision about '24 down the road,” she said in the interview with ABC talk show This Week.

“The single most important thing is protecting the nation from Donald Trump.”

But Ms Cheney is fighting for her political life in Wyoming, where a Trump-backed rival is challenging her in the state's Republican primary, to be held next month before November's midterm elections.

Updated: July 06, 2022, 3:00 PM