Amash warns of turning lawmakers like Cheney into 'heroes'

Former Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashAmash warns of turning lawmakers like Cheney into 'heroes' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Biden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' MORE (L-Mich.) said that people should avoid labeling Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyPhotos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris Jordan acknowledges talking to Trump on Jan. 6 Stefanik calls Cheney 'Pelosi pawn' over Jan. 6 criticism MORE (R-Wyo.) as “some sort of hero” for her criticism of former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE, arguing that the congresswoman could have spoken out earlier. 

In an interview on Thursday’s episode of "The Axe Files" podcast with CNN’s David AxelrodDavid AxelrodUnscripted remarks start to haunt President Biden The Memo: 'Hillbilly Elegy' author binds himself to Trump after past criticism Psaki 'likely will stay longer' than year as White House press secretary MORE, Amash said Cheney could have joined him when he warned 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.” 

Amash became an independent in 2019 after he voted in favor of Trump’s first impeachment. In 2020, he became a member of the Libertarian Party.  

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"She didn't stand up for that view," he said Thursday. "We had four years where she could have stood up and said, 'There's a problem here. What Donald Trump is doing is wrong.'"

Cheney was removed from her position as House Republican Conference chairwoman earlier this month due to her repeated criticisms of Trump and his unsupported claims of fraud in the 2020 election. 

Cheney has also maintained that she regretted voting for the former president in 2020 and that she would do “everything” in her power to keep Trump away from the White House should he decide to run again in 2024. 

Amash, who considered a 2020 presidential bid, questioned “what is it that changed” in Cheney’s mind for her to start pushing back on 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," Amash told Axelrod.  

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"Liz Cheney, what is it that you saw that made it so different for you versus how Trump was behaving, say, before Jan. 6?" he continued. "I mean, 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?"

"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," added Amash, who served in Congress for five terms. "And I think that's a huge problem because it lets people get away with things."

He went on to say, though, that he believed it was important to “give people the room to learn and change.” 

Cheney in January was one of 10 House Republicans who joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol as lawmakers were meeting to certify President BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE’s electoral win. 

Following the vote, fellow GOP members began to hit Cheney and the other Republicans who supported impeachment. Many of those lawmakers were censured by Republican Party chapters in their home states. 

Cheney was able to resist a February challenge to remove her as the No. 3 Republican, though her continued opposition to Trump fueled discontent from Trump loyalists in the House. They eventually voted to replace the Wyoming congresswoman with Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikStefanik calls Cheney 'Pelosi pawn' over Jan. 6 criticism GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger GOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto MORE (R-N.Y.).