Liz Cheney Says Jan. 6 Role May Be 'Most Important Thing I Ever Do' as She Prepares to Lead Thursday's Hearing

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Liz Cheney
Liz Cheney

Tom Williams/getty Rep. Liz Cheney

Just weeks after she presides over the Jan. 6 committee's final scheduled hearing on Thursday night, Wyoming Republicans will decide if Rep. Liz Cheney deserves to be their party's nominee for the state's only seat in the House of Representatives.

Cheney, who turns 56 next week, is behind in polls that show her trailing Donald Trump-endorsed candidate Harriet Hageman by a wide margin.

Despite past and future consequences, Cheney is resolute about her role as vice chair of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 and holding accountable the former president and his supporters for the attack on the U.S. Capitol and attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

RELATED: Who Are Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews? 2 Former White House Aides Will Testify at Thursday's Jan. 6 Hearing

"I don't look at it through a political lens," Cheney said in an interview with The New York Times this week as she prepared to wield the gavel at Thursday's hearing while Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat, is out sick with COVID-19. "I look at it through the angle of: People need to understand how dangerous he is and how unfit for office he is."

Cheney, one of two Republicans on the panel, is the only one facing reelection this year. Her participation in the Jan. 6 investigation — as well as her fearlessness in implicating Trump as a threat to American democracy — has left her ostracized from her party.

RELATED: Wyoming GOP Votes to No Longer Recognize Liz Cheney as a Republican in Move Her Rep Calls 'Laughable'

But she is clear-eyed and unwavering about what she believes must be done.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol

Alex Wong/Getty Images From left: Reps. Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney

"I believe this is the most important thing I've ever done professionally," Cheney told the Times, "and maybe the most important thing I ever do."

Becoming a leading critic of Trump has made her an ally — and for some, a hero — to Democrats, even if it's an unlikely alliance for the daughter of conservative former Vice President Dick Cheney.

RELATED: Liz Cheney Says Evidence Shows Trump and Others Knew Plan to Overturn 2020 Election Was Illegal

"I'm sure it's as weird for them as it is for me," Cheney said of standing alongside Democrats on the panel. She said she has become close with fellow committee member Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, and others who've said they're eager for a day when they can again disagree with her.

"That'll mean our politics have righted themselves," she said in the interview.

Another Democrat on the panel, Rep. Adam Schiff, praised her and argued that though she may be taking on the leader of the Republican Party, she's staying true to her long held values.

RELATED: JFK's Grandson Jack Schlossberg Awards Liz Cheney Profile in Courage

"She's tough. She's tenacious. She's smart. She has tremendous work ethic. She knows who she is, and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say she has remained true to her conservative ideology," Schiff said. "It's that so many in her party have moved away from conservatism to embrace Trumpism. She's been incredibly consistent."

Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., listens at left as Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., speaks as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol pushes ahead with contempt charges against former Trump advisers Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in response to their refusal to comply with subpoenas, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, March 28, 2022. Navarro, President Donald Trump's trade adviser, and Scavino, a White House communications aide under Trump, have been uncooperative in the congressional probe into the deadly 2021 insurrection.
Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., listens at left as Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., speaks as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol pushes ahead with contempt charges against former Trump advisers Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in response to their refusal to comply with subpoenas, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, March 28, 2022. Navarro, President Donald Trump's trade adviser, and Scavino, a White House communications aide under Trump, have been uncooperative in the congressional probe into the deadly 2021 insurrection.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo Liz Cheney (left), Jamie Raskin

Now in a strange political spotlight, Cheney said she's been stopped more often by strangers seeking handshakes and selfies this summer since the Jan. 6 committee began its televised hearings.

"It's almost entirely friendly and really moving," she said. "People across the political spectrum who say thank you, especially young people."

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Whether there is appreciation or derision, Cheney indicated she's motivated by a sense of duty amid a crisis with an uncertain end.

"As a country, we're at a moment where we really do have to step back from the abyss and it's not totally clear to me that we're going to," Cheney said. "The forces that want to drag us over the edge are strong and fighting. But we have to."