Former congresswoman Liz Cheney believes Donald Trump would refuse to leave office after a second presidential term if he is reelected and that a vote for him "may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in."
Cheney, a lifelong Republican who broke with the party after leading the House of Representatives committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, spoke with Savannah Guthrie on TODAY on Dec. 4 about the threat she sees from a second Trump presidential term.
She writes in her new book, "Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning," that the 2024 election will be about whether or not we will still have a democracy.
"It certainly is," she said. "And Donald Trump has told us exactly what he will do. He will not abide by the rulings of the courts. He will certainly appoint people to office whether or not they can be confirmed by the Senate.
"He has talked about using the military in terms that really are fundamentally un-American. ... So it's a very dangerous moment, and it's a moment for people to understand that that cannot be the path that we go down as a country."
The daughter of former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney believes Trump would install himself as a permanent president and refuse to leave office after the mandated two-term limit if he is reelected.
"There’s no question," she said. "Absolutely. He’s already done it once. ... He’s already attempted to seize power, and he was stopped, thankfully, and for the good of the nation and the republic. But he said he will do it again. He’s expressed no remorse for what he did."
A potential election between Trump and President Joe Biden could come down to a small sliver of undecided voters in swing states. Cheney was asked about voters who may think a vote for Trump won't have any long-lasting effects on democracy.
"I think that’s a real problem, and I think that the challenge is to make sure that those people understand and recognize that a Trump vote is not acceptable," she said. "I hope that there are options and alternatives that reflect the important challenges that we’re facing, and that reflect leadership to meet those challenges, but that choice can never be Donald Trump because a vote for Donald Trump may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in.
"And again, I don’t say that lightly, and I think it’s heartbreaking that that’s where we are, but people have to recognize that a vote for Donald Trump is a vote against the Constitution."
Cheney, 57, called the possibility of Trump becoming a dictator "a very, very real threat and concern."
Even as someone who has dedicated her life to Republican politics, Cheney said she "will never vote for Donald Trump" and "will do whatever it takes to make sure that Donald Trump is defeated in 2024."
A second Trump presidency would be an attack on the foundations of the country, according to Cheney.
"He won’t support and uphold the Constitution," she said. "We’ve already seen what happened. He is the only president in American history who attempted to overturn an election, who attempted to seize power, to stay in power after he had lost. The reason that we didn’t have a much more serious crisis was because there were people around him who stopped him."
"We won’t have that safeguard again," she continued, "and he’s so dangerous. If you have a president who is unwilling to abide by the rulings of the courts, who’s unwilling to uphold the Constitution, then there are no guardrails who can stop him."
Cheney also addressed the belief that Congress and other checks and balances would be in place to limit Trump's attempts at power.
"The notion that we would be OK, I think, is naive," she said.
She doesn't believe a House led by new Speaker Mike Johnson could be trusted in a scenario in which it could be called upon to determine the outcome of a disputed presidential election.
"I think it is too dangerous to even contemplate going down that path, partly because they’ve all had practice now," Cheney said. "What happened in 2020 and January of 2021, in many ways they can look at as a practice run, and they know now what it would take in fact to attempt to completely unravel the foundations of our republic."
"I think what we have seen is that you cannot count on this group of elected Republicans to uphold their oath to the Constitution," she added.
Cheney said she is seeing how the nominations turn out for the two parties before she decides on whether to make a run for president herself. Her break with the party in its support of Trump led to her losing a primary last year during her House reelection bid in conservative Wyoming.
"It's a moment where people have to be willing to put partisanship aside and say the future of the country demands that we save the republic," she said. "And we're never going to get the chance to debate all the other really important issues if we allow Donald Trump the power to unravel the very foundations of our Constitution."