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Liz Cheney says too many in GOP are 'looking the other way' on Jan. 6: ‘That’s how democracies die’

The Wyoming congresswoman says media and members of her party who try to downplay the attack on Jan. 6 "ought to be ashamed of themselves."

On the one-year anniversary of the riot at the U.S. Capitol, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney believes the country's democracy remains under attack.

"The threat continues," Cheney told Savannah Guthrie in an exclusive interview on TODAY Thursday. "Former President Trump continues to make the same claims that he knows caused violence on Jan. 6.

"And it's very important, if you look at what's happening today in my party, the Republican party, rather than reject what happened on (January) 6th, reject the lies about the election and make clear that a president who engaged in those activities can never be president again, unfortunately too many in my own party are embracing that former president, are looking the other way, are minimizing the danger. That's how democracies die, and we simply cannot let that happen."

A year after the violent assault, the right-wing media and many Republican lawmakers have tried to downplay it by claiming that it was mainly a peaceful gathering, despite the images shown live on television.

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"All of my colleagues, anyone who attempts to minimize what happened, anyone who denies the truth of what happened, they ought to be ashamed of themselves," Cheney said. "History is watching, and history will judge them."

Cheney, who is vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, said the committee has gathered first-hand testimony that Trump was watching the violence unfold on television at the White House and did nothing to stop his supporters and tell them to go home.

Trump has cited executive privilege in asking the Supreme Court to stop the release of White House documents to the select committee regarding the events of Jan. 6.

"We will not let the former president hide behind these phony claims of privilege," Cheney said.

Cheney was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot. He was ultimately acquitted by the Senate.

A year after the Jan. 6 attack, there are pending laws in 16 states that would change election rules to give more power to the state legislatures rather than election officials and governors, and there are least 18 Trump loyalists and election deniers who are running for secretary of state to oversee elections at the state level.

According to recent ABC News and University of Massachusetts polls, 71% of Republicans believe the election was stolen from Trump, and a Washington Post poll shows about a third of Republicans believe political violence is justified in some circumstances.

Given all those facts, Cheney was asked if Trump in a better position now to subvert a U.S. election than he was a year ago.

"We will not allow him to subvert a U.S. election," she said. "He is certainly continuing his efforts in that regard.

"We all have a duty to ensure that he cannot subvert this democracy."