Transcript: Representative Liz Cheney on "Face the Nation"

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The following is a transcript of an interview with GOP Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming that aired Sunday, February 27, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who joins us from Casper. Good morning to you, Congresswoman.

REP. LIZ CHENEY: Good morning, Margaret. Good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Have we reached the limit of what is possible to do here with sanctions? Or is there something more you think would make a difference?

REP. CHENEY: We certainly haven't reached the limit, I think that we have seen impressive progress. I think the fact that we've had the European countries and NATO united with the United States as we go forward is a very positive thing. I do think we need to do more. I would like to see us move with respect to the Russian central bank completely. I'd like to see swift sanctions that don't leave any carve outs. I'd like to see the oil industry affected. I'd like to see very clear that- you know- the United States ought to be looking at ourselves, frankly, as an arsenal of energy for the world in a way that in World War Two, we were an arsenal of democracy. We ought to be an arsenal of energy, so we ought to be unleashing our own energy resources, our own energy production. We ought to stop the imports of Russian oil to the United States. So there's- there's certainly more we can do. We ought to be sanctioning not just Putin, not just Lavrov, not just the oligarchs, but all of their families that this- this behavior, this aggression against Ukraine is something that- that the- the world simply cannot tolerate. So the sanctions ought to go further. As I said, we've made good progress so far.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you agree with President Biden's strategy here that rather than go nose to nose with the Russian military, U.S. force should be completely off the table and that it should all be dependent on sanctions.

REP. CHENEY: I think there are several things we need to be doing, we need to certainly be increasing the sanctions, as I've said, and I would have sequenced the sanctions differently. I would have done more early on. I think we need to make sure that we're rushing additional javelin and stinger missiles to the Ukrainians. I think we need to make sure that we get the Supplemental Assistance Package that should be on the floor of the House this week. We need to get that moving. We need to make sure that we are moving to deploy forces as we are in Eastern Europe. We need to make sure that we're continuing to encourage our allies to do the same. So I think there are a number of things we need to be doing that make very clear that the United States stands with Ukraine. And as- as you look at things like Vladimir Putin's threat, for example, this morning about his nuclear forces, you know, that's something that we need to take seriously, but we also need to be clear that we're not going to be intimidated. And one of our former U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine, John Herbst, has pointed out that it cost Putin nothing to make that threat, but it would cost him everything were he to follow through, certainly with any- any use of nuclear force. So the United States has got to be absolutely clear about that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about where the conservative movement is these days with Russia. J.D. Vance, an Ohio candidate for Senate, said on a podcast recently, 'I don't really care what happens to Ukraine one way or the other.' Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri told CBS the U.S. should not send troops to any NATO country since the U.S. can't afford it. So there is this non-interventionist, isolationist movement that President Trump himself really endorsed with America First. I mean, how do you explain to voters why that view- Republican view- is wrong?

REP. CHENEY: Look, we've- we've been down that road before, we've seen isolationism in both parties, and it's always been wrong and it's always been dangerous. America cannot defend and maintain our own freedom and security if we think that we're going to simply withdraw from the world and not lead. You know, we are watching today the brutality of Vladimir Putin as he attempts to invade a democratic sovereign nation. And anyone who thinks that U.S. freedom and security is going to be maintained if we take a step back and don't lead, you simply need to look at what's happening in Ukraine to recognize that- that those who fill the void when the U.S. steps away are people like the Russians, like the Chinese, like the Iranians. And so the idea that- that the world will be safe and that America will be able to be safe and free with an isolationist approach is wrong. It's also wrong morally. You know, America stands for freedom. America was founded on fundamental principles of freedom. And- and I think it's- it's indefensible for people to abandon those or suggest that we are- we have no- no view as between Russia and Ukraine in this battle.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The first- first impeachment trial of President Trump was triggered from a complaint by U.S. intelligence official, who said that the president was withholding aid or threatening to- to Ukraine, to President Zelensky, in order to win political favors. Do you regret your no vote then? Do you view what happened then differently now?

REP. CHENEY: I don't regret my vote, I think any impeachment vote has got to be one that is based very clearly on- on the evidence, and I think that we certainly have learned a lot from that first impeachment trial that we are using as we move forward in the January six committee. I think that it's very important, you'll see with the January six committee, we have a very aggressive litigation strategy, and I think that there were a number of instances in the first impeachment where it would have been important and decisive to have witnesses testify who did not come in and testify. We did not enforce the subpoenas. I think though, it's very clear, if you- if you look at some of the challenges that we're dealing with now, President Trump spent a large part of his presidency, for example, attacking NATO, saying that NATO was obsolete, attacking our allies. And we are certainly seeing today how crucially important NATO is, how crucially important our allies are. I was very pleased to see that Germany has announced that they will be raising their defense spending to two percent. One thing that President Trump got right was increased spending for the military, and it's very important for us, especially as we look at the challenges now, as we look at Putin's nuclear threat, we cannot adopt policies like a no-first-use nuclear policy. We can't accept defense spending that is insufficient to defend our interests. We have to make sure that we are recognizing here at home, what's- what's important and necessary to defend ourselves.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I think that picture looks a lot different now that we see a city being bombed by Russia. We're going to talk about some of that ahead with H.R. McMaster. Thank you so much Liz Cheney for joining us. We'll be right back.

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