The Republican vice-chair of the January 6 committee has rejected the idea that prosecuting a former president would inflame political tensions in America.

Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with ABC News correspondent Jon Karl broadcast on Sunday, Rep Liz Cheney insisted instead that the danger lay in letting Donald Trump get off scot-free for the events leading up to the attack on Congress.

Her words are some of the clearest indications so far that the Jan 6 committee is laying out a case for Mr Trump to be criminally charged.

“I think it’s a much graver constitutional threat if a president can engage in these kinds of activities, and the majority of the president’s party looks away; or we as a country decide we’re not actually going to take our constitutional obligations seriously. I think that’s a much, a much more serious threat,” she told Mr karl.

“I really believe we have to make these decisions, as difficult as it is, apart from politics. We really have to think about these from the perspective of, ‘what does it mean for the country?’” the congresswoman added.

The Wyoming Republican lawmaker has partnered with Democratic committee chair Bennie Thompson for a series of public hearings that have completely avoided the bipartisan rancor of other committees and presented a damning look at the actions of Mr Trump and his team in the days leading up to January 6.

This past week, the hearing focused on the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, whose testimony on a wide range of issues was contested as usual by the former president. Ms Cheney confirmed in her interview that the committee would lay out more evidence backing up her testimony in the weeks ahead.

“The committee has significant evidence about a whole range of issues, including the president’s intense anger,” she told ABC.

“I think you will continue to see in the coming days and weeks additional detail about the president’s activities and behavior on that day,” she said, referring to January 6.

Helping the lawmakers’ case is their focus on Republican witnesses, including allies of Mr Trump, who have laid out the immense, wide-ranging efforts the Trump team engaged in to overturn the election even as they began to clearly understand that they had no evidence to back up their claims of fraud and that violence was likely to break out on January 6 if they continued their work.

The committee lacks the constitutional authority to formally charge the president but will potentially issue a letter to the Justice Department, which is deeply involved in its own Capitol riot investigation, urging the agency to criminally prosecute Mr Trump and/or others.

The ex-president remains unrepentant about his long-debunked claims of fraud and foreign interference even as he is thought to be plotting a third bid for the White House.



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