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Liz Cheney: Jan. 6 committee may make criminal referrals of Trump, others

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Liz Cheney: Jan. 6 committee may make criminal referrals of Trump, others
Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol, said the panel could make multiple criminal referrals including of former President Donald Trump. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

July 3 (UPI) -- The Jan. 6 House committee may make multiple criminal referrals, possibly including former President Donald Trump, the panel's vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, said Sunday.

Cheney, R-Wyo., said during an appearance on ABC News' This Week that the panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol would "make a decision as a committee" about any criminal referrals while confirming that a referral of Trump was a possibility.

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"The Justice Department doesn't have to wait for the committee to make a criminal referral and there could be more than one criminal referral," she said.

When asked if she was concerned about the prospect of President Joe Biden's Justice Department prosecuting Trump, a potential 2024 opponent, Cheney said she had "greater concern about what it would mean if people weren't held accountable" for the events of Jan. 6.

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"I think it's a much graver constitutional threat if a president can engage in these kinds of activities and, you know, the majority of the president's party looks away or we as a country decide, you know, we're not actually going to take our constitutional obligations seriously," she said. "I think that's a much more serious threat."

Cheney's comments came after Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified before the committee on Tuesday that White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato, who is now assistant director of the Secret Service Office of Training, told her Trump "became irate" and "reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel" of the presidential limo -- known as "the Beast" after Secret Service agent Bobby Engel told him they were to return to the West Wing instead of going to the Capitol amid the riots.

Some Trump allies, not speaking under oath, have questioned Hutchinson's testimony but Cheney on Sunday said the committee has "significant evidence about a whole range of issues including the president's intense anger."

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"The committee is not going to stand by and watch her character be assassinated by anonymous sources and by men who are claiming executive privilege," she said. "And so we look forward very much to additional testimony under oath on a whole range of issues."

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The other Republican on the committee, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, also defended Hutchinson's testimony in an appearance on CNN's State of the Union.

"We certainly would say that Cassidy Hutchinson has testified under oath, we find her credible and anybody that wants to cast disparagements ... that was firsthand present should come and also testify under oath, and not through 'anonymous sources," he said.

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"What she said is this is what she heard. At no point did she say she was in the Beast with the president and saw this happen."

Kinzinger added that Hutchinson's testimony has "been inspiring for a lot of people" and that more witnesses have come forward in the days that followed.

"There will be way more information -- and stay tuned," he said.

When asked if Ornato would testify before the committee, Kinzinger said that "there's information I can't say yet."

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