National Security

Cheney says Trump’s team has changed Jan. 6 strategy to blame the ‘crazies’

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Tuesday said individuals in former President Trump’s orbit have recently changed their strategy when dealing with the Jan. 6 select committee, opting to blame the “crazies” in Trump’s orbit for his actions.

During her opening statement at Tuesday’s public hearing, Cheney said witnesses and lawyers connected to Trump have gone from denying arguments and delaying proceedings to blaming outside advisers for Trump’s conduct — a plan that she labeled “nonsense.”

The Wyoming Republican’s comments came after the committee established that individuals in Trump’s orbit were aware that the 2020 presidential election was not stolen.

“We have covered significant ground over the past several weeks, and we have also seen a change in how witnesses and lawyers in the Trump orbit approach this committee,” Cheney said.

“Initially, their strategy in some cases appeared to be to deny and delay,” Cheney said. “Today, there appears to be a general recognition that the committee has established key facts, including that virtually everyone close to President Trump — his justice department officials, his White House advisers, his White House counsel, his campaign — all told him the 2020 election was not stolen,” she added.

During previous hearings, the committee has presented testimony from figures in Trump’s inner circle calling his claims of election fraud baseless. Notably, the panel showed testimony from former Attorney General William Barr labeling Trump’s claims of election fraud “bullshit.”

Cheney, who serves as the vice chairwoman of the panel, said those close to Trump now seem to be arguing that the president “was manipulated by others outside the administration, that he was persuaded to ignore his closest advisers and that he was incapable of telling right from wrong.”

She specifically called out three individuals witnesses have sought to blame for Trump’s conduct: conservative lawyer John Eastman, former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.).

“In this version, the president was quote ‘poorly served’ by these outside advisers. The strategy is to blame people his advisers called quote ‘the crazies’ for what Donald Trump did. This, of course, is nonsense,” Cheney said.

“President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child. Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices. As our investigation has shown, Donald Trump had access to more detailed and specific information showing that the election was not actually stolen than almost any other American. And he was told this over and over again. No rational or sane man in his position could disregard that information and reach the opposite conclusion. And Donald Trump cannot escape responsibility by being willfully blind,” she added.

Cheney’s comments came during the seventh public hearing put on by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The hearing marked the first presentation from the panel since it spoke with former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who sat behind closed doors with the panel for more than seven hours on Friday.

Cheney on Tuesday said Cipollone’s testimony “met our expectations.”

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