Republican Rep. Liz Cheney slammed former President Donald Trump for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 riots while also criticizing the policies of President Joe Biden in a speech Wednesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum.
Trump is a "dangerous and irrational man" who "attempted to overturn the presidential election," Cheney told a packed audience at the library in Simi Valley.
The former Republican president "attempted to stay in office and to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power" to Biden who defeated Trump in the November 2020 election, said the vice chairwoman of the Jan. 6 committee investigating the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters.
"He summoned a mob to Washington," Cheney, Wyoming's sole member of the U.S. House, said in her 30-minute address. "He knew they were armed on Jan. 6. He knew they were angry. And he directed the violent mob to march on the capitol in order to delay or prevent completing the counting of electoral votes."
An unapologetic Trump has dismissed the investigation — and even declared on social media that Jan. 6 “represented the greatest movement in the history of our country.”
More than 750 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riots. Over 220 participants have pleaded guilty, more than 100 have been sentenced and at least 90 others have trial dates.
Cheney, who received two standing ovations Wednesday night, said, "at this moment, we are confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before. And that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our Constitutional republic."
She said it's "painful" for Republicans to accept the actions of fellow Republican Trump. But "Republicans cannot be both loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution," she said.
Cheney castigated the Biden administration for, among other things, economic policies that "have contributed to the worst inflation in 40 years.
"We're watching the expansion of government regulations that kills jobs and economic growth," she said. And the administration's handling of the surge of illegal immigrants at the nation's southern border is "unsustainable," Cheney said.
"It's dangerous and it's reckless and we must get control of our southern border," she said.
Cheney praised the testimony Tuesday before the Jan. 6 committee of Cassidy Hutchinson, a little-known former White House aide.
Hutchison testified she was told Trump fought a security official for control of the presidential vehicle on Jan. 6 and demanded to be taken to the Capitol as the riots began, despite being warned earlier that day that some of his supporters were armed.
"Her bravery and her patriotism were awesome to behold," Cheney said.
But Hutchinson's testimony is being disputed. Bobby Engel, the agent who was driving the SUV, and Trump security official Tony Ornato are willing to testify under oath that no agent was assaulted and Trump never lunged for the steering wheel, a person familiar with the matter told the Associated Press.
Using Hutchinson as an example, Cheney said, "I want to speak to every young girl watching tonight. The power is yours. And so is the responsibility. In our great nation, one individual can make all the difference.
"These days, for the most part, men are running the world. And it is really not going that well," Cheney cracked, sparking laughter and applause from the audience.
Concluding her remarks, Cheney said Americans should resolve that they love the nation so much, "that we will stand above politics to defend her.
"And that we will do everything in our power to protect our Constitution and our freedom paid for by the blood of so many," she said.
Audience members praised Cheney's speech.
"I thought it was excellent," said Tom Lusby, 69, of La Crescenta-Montrose. "She's a woman of courage. Her theme of freedom, I think, is important now. Her commitment to the Constitution is laudable."
But the Republican said he's not sure he completely agrees with Cheney's conclusions about the Jan. 6 riots.
The software employee said he believes Trump acted improperly that day, "but I don't know it's to the extent it's explained right now."
Nancy Phillips, of Moorpark, 71, a retired pharmaceutical saleswoman, said she thought Cheney's speech was "fabulous. She basically explained the direction the country has to go.
"She's a star," said Phillips, an independent. "I totally agree with her comments" about Trump's involvement in the riots. "Trump has to be made responsible for what happened."
Phillips added she loves "the fact that Liz Cheney has stepped up. And while the Republican party is not happy with her, she's doing the right thing."
The Associated Press contributed to this story
Mike Harris covers the East County cities of Moorpark, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, as well as transportation countywide. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-437-0323.
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This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Trump slammed by Liz Cheney in speech at Reagan library