Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., after being ousted from her leadership role in the House, says she will do "whatever it takes" to keep former President Donald Trump out of the White House but is stopping just short of saying she would run for president herself in 2024 to keep that from happening.
"He's unfit; he never again can be anywhere close to the Oval Office," she told NBC "Today" anchor Savannah Guthrie in an extensive interview recorded just after the vote against her Wednesday and airing Thursday morning.
"How far are you willing to take this? Would you run for president?" Guthrie asked her.
"I think that it is the most important issue that we are facing right now as a country, and we're facing a huge array of issues, so he must not ever again be anywhere close to the Oval Office," Cheney said. "I'm going to do everything that I can, both to make sure that that never happens, but also to make sure that the Republican Party gets back to substance and policy."
Guthrie pushed Cheney again, and the congresswoman responded she is very focused on making sure "our party becomes again a party that stands for truth and stands for fundamental principles that are conservative and mostly stands for the Constitution, and I won't let a former president or anybody else unravel the democracy."
"Whatever it takes?" Savannah asked her.
"Whatever it takes," Cheney responded.
Cheney also during the interview slammed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who pushed the vote forward to remove her from her chair seat, for lacking principles in his embrace of Trump.
"For reasons that I don't understand, leaders in my party have decided to embrace the former president," Cheney said of McCarthy, who is in line to become House speaker should Republicans regain the chamber in the 2022 midterm elections.
The vote against Cheney came after her continued criticism of Trump and his claims about the 2020 presidential election and in the wake of the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
"Leader McCarthy's visit to the former president at Mar-a-Lago was really stunning given what the former president did," she said. "He provoked an attack on the Capitol — an attack on our democracy. I can't understand why you'd want to go rehabilitate him."
McCarthy, after a bipartisan meeting at the White House to discuss infrastructure legislation with President Joe Biden, denied anyone in the Republican Party is "questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election."
Cheney said she finds her fellow Republicans' support of Trump a "scary thing."
"For reasons that I don't understand, leaders in my party have decided to embrace the former president who launched that attack, and I think you've watched over the course of the last several months, the former president got more aggressive, more vocal, pushing the lie," Cheney said.
The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney insisted she is not going to change political parties and she plans to seek reelection to her congressional seat, despite Trump's threats to push for another Republican to defeat her in the primary election.
"You know — bring it on," she responded when Guthrie asked her about a primary challenge.
"If they think they're going to come into Wyoming and make the argument that the people of Wyoming should vote for someone who is loyal to Donald Trump over somebody who is loyal to the Constitution, I welcome that debate."
"Right now, I am very focused on making sure that our party becomes again a party that stands for truth and stands for fundamental principles that are conservative," Cheney said.
However, she insisted in the interview and to reporters on Wednesday after she was voted out of her chairman seat that Trump "must not ever again be anywhere close to the Oval Office."
She also called for Trump to be "investigated criminally" in connection with the Jan. 6 events.
Meanwhile, Cheney said she sees the vote against her as the "opening salvo" in once again defining the Republican Party.
"It's a battle we have to win because it's not just about the Republican Party," she said. "It's about the country."
Cheney also insisted, despite the action taken against her, she still will stand strong against the agenda being pushed by President Joe Biden and the Democrats.
"I've been very clear that I think President Biden's policies are dangerous," she said. "Every single day I'm fighting against those policies and will continue to do that."
Meanwhile, a vote to replace Cheney is coming Friday, with Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., likely to be named to the conference chair seat.
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