- Justin Amash warned against turning Liz Cheney into “some sort of hero” for her criticism of Trump.
- Amash said that Cheney didn’t join him when he was criticizing Trump’s behavior before January 6.
- “I also think we need to be careful, because you want to give people the room to learn and change,” he said.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Former Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who became a contrarian within the GOP after former President Donald Trump’s 2016 election before eventually leaving the party, warned against calling Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming a “hero” for her criticism of the former president.
During an interview on “The Axe Files” podcast with CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod, Amash said that Cheney could have joined him in rebuking Trump years ago.
“For a long time, I was warning that the president’s approach could lead to things like violence, could lead to a lot of animosity and contempt, and all sorts of things that would be harmful to our country,” he said. “She didn’t stand up for that view.”
Amash has been a longtime critic of Trump and called for the former president’s impeachment based on the findings from the Russia investigation in February 2019, months before Trump’s eventual 2019 impeachment by the Democratic-led House.
The former congressman, who nixed his third-party presidential bid last year, said Cheney was nowhere to be found when he was the lone voice pressing for Trump’s ouster.
“We had four years where she could have stood up and said, ‘There’s a problem here. What Donald Trump is doing is wrong,'” he said. “I think this effort to turn her into some sort of hero is a bit misguided.”
Cheney, the scion of a prominent GOP family, was ousted as House Republican Conference Chair earlier this month after continuing to publicly blast Trump for his debunked election claims, despite her reliably conservative voting record.
The congresswoman said that she now regrets voting for the former president in the 2020 election.
During the interview, Amash questioned what “changed” for Cheney to shift her tolerance for Trump.
“I say that not as someone who’s saying you can never change, you can never grow, you can never learn, but I’d like to see some real development when people learn,” he said. “Like, what is it that changed your mind? Liz Cheney, what is it that you saw that made it so different for you versus how Trump was behaving, say, before January 6th?”
He added: “I don’t think there was any radical difference there. It was the same, what, because the outcome was different? Because that was the one time they stormed the Capitol?”
Amash then expounded on political consistency and how people are often lionized for rejecting positions that they once supported.
“One of the biggest problems we have in politics is that when someone is inconsistent like that, where they’re doing the wrong thing for four years and then they flip on a dime, there’s a tendency to turn them into heroes,” he said. “I think that’s a huge problem because it lets people get away with things.”
He added: “With that said, I also think we need to be careful, because you want to give people the room to learn and change.”
In January, days after Amash left office, Cheney joined nine other House Republicans in voting to impeach Trump for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot.
Some of the more conservative elements of the House caucus slammed Cheney for her vote, but she survived a February leadership vote to keep her position.
However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California helped engineer her ouster this month, saying that she wasn’t staying on message ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Cheney was eventually replaced in leadership by Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, a Trump loyalist.