Liz Cheney says she may launch 3rd party bid against Trump, claims he could end democracy

"We face threats that could be existential to the United States," she argued.

December 5, 2023, 1:42 PM

Former Rep. Liz Cheney, a top House Republican-turned-fervent critic of former President Donald Trump, is weighing a third-party bid against him as she issues dire claims about how Trump returning to power in 2024 could be the end of American democracy.

"Several years ago, I would not have contemplated a third-party run … I happen to think democracy is at risk at home, obviously, as a result of Donald Trump's continued grip on the Republican Party, and I think democracy is at risk internationally as well," Cheney, who helped run the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, told The Washington Post on Monday.

The former Wyoming lawmaker's vocal critiques of Trump in the wake of Jan. 6 and his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss helped lead to the end of her congressional career; she was defeated in a 2022 primary by a Trump-backed Republican opponent.

On Tuesday, Cheney released a new book, "Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning," which focuses on the fallout of the 2020 race and the events around Jan. 6 -- describing Trump as "the most dangerous man ever to inhabit the Oval Office."

In interviews with various news outlets promoting her book, Cheney has doubled down on her warnings, as she sees it, about what Trump would do if he is president again.

"There are a majority of the voters in this country who are too responsible to entrust Donald Trump with the authority of the White House and the authority of the presidency," she told the Post. "So I think a large part of the task going into '24 is talking to those people and just making sure they have the facts in front of them."

Trump has pushed back on her, saying in a recent social media post that she was "crazy" and suffering from "Trump Derangement Syndrome."

He previously slammed Cheney as "smug" and said that "to look at her is to despise her."

PHOTO: Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.,  is seen as the January 6th Committee meets for its final session at the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill, Dec. 19, 2022, in Washington.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., is seen as the January 6th Committee meets for its final session at the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill, Dec. 19, 2022, in Washington.
Matt McClain for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Cheney has been clear for months that her primary goal is to ensure Trump loses in the 2024 election, indicating to NBC News earlier this year that she would not launch her own campaign if it would split anti-Trump voters.

"I'm not going to do anything that helps Donald Trump," she said then.

She told the Post on Monday, "We face threats that could be existential to the United States and we need a candidate who is going to be able to deal with and address and confront all of those challenges. That will all be part of my calculation as we go into the early months of 2024."

She echoed that in comments to USA Today: "I think that the situation that we're in is so grave, and the politics of the moment require independents and Republicans and Democrats coming together in a way that can help form a new coalition, so that may well be a third-party option."

Cheney told Post that she would make a final decision on a third-party run in the coming months.

Her possible presidential platform, she said, would include keeping American commitments to security internationally, which she argued Trump and House Republicans have threatened.

She has also raised the possibility of pushing for a new conservative party or "restoring the current Republican Party, which ... looks like a very difficult if not impossible task," Cheney told USA Today on Monday.

She told the paper that she would consider joining a hypothetical bipartisan ticket. She said, however, that she would not join the so-called "unity" ticket that could be put forth by the No Labels group if it seemed like that would help elect Trump.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters at the Fort Dodge Senior High School, Nov. 18, 2023, in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Former President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters at the Fort Dodge Senior High School, Nov. 18, 2023, in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

The former congresswoman, who is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, lost against now-Rep. Harriet Hagerman in Wyoming's Republican primary last year.

Cheney has been outspoken about her views on Trump and what she calls the threat he and pro-Trump Republicans pose to American democracy, including in light of the Jan. 6, 2021 riot on the Capitol as Congress had gathered to certify Trump's defeat to President Joe Biden.

In her new memoir, she takes aim at her fellow Republicans who voted against certifying the election results in light of Trump's baseless allegations of widespread fraud.

"So strong is the lure of power that men and women who had once seemed reasonable and responsible were suddenly willing to violate their oath to the Constitution out of political expediency and loyalty to Donald Trump," she writes.

In an interview this week with NBC News, Cheney said she didn't think Trump would leave office if he won another term and that Republicans need to be voted out of the House majority next year so they could not potentially aid him.

Current Speaker Mike Johnson joined with more than 100 other House Republicans back in 2020 in supporting a lawsuit to overturn Biden's win in some key swing states.

When asked in late October by ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott if he stood by that decision, Johnson did not answer and other Republicans shouted Scott down.

PHOTO: Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney appears onstage in conversation with David Rubenstein at the 92nd Street Y, June 26, 2023, in New York.
Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney appears onstage in conversation with David Rubenstein at the 92nd Street Y, June 26, 2023, in New York.
Andy Kropa/Invision via AP

Cheney suggested this week that the seriousness of the matter required her to speak in hyperbolic terms: "A vote for Donald Trump may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in," she told NBC News.

"He's already shown us what he would do and he can never be near the Oval Office again," Cheney told MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow in another interview, on Monday night.

According to a CNN report published last week, Cheney's book also critiques former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and provides additional accounts of what was going on behind the scenes during the events of Jan. 6.

Trump has disputed one of the accounts related in the memoir about a meeting between him and McCarthy at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida following the 2020 presidential election.

In her book, according to CNN, Cheney writes that McCarthy told her he was asked to go see Trump at Mar-a-Lago because Trump was not eating and was seemingly depressed.

Trump claimed on social media on Monday that he was angry, not depressed; was eating too much, not too little; and that McCarthy came down to get his support.

In a statement to CNN, a McCarthy spokesperson said of Cheney: "First it was Trump Derangement Syndrome, and now apparently it's also McCarthy Derangement Syndrome."

McCarthy and Johnson's offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story.

ABC News' Lalee Ibssa, Soo Rin Kim, Isabella Murray, Lauren Peller and Kendall Ross contributed to this report.

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