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Liz Cheney warns Donald Trump's comments about being a 'dictator' should be taken literally

WASHINGTON — Former Republican Rep. Liz Cheney warned that all of former President Donald Trump’s remarks should be taken “literally and seriously” after the former president said at an event last week he would be a “dictator” only on “day one” of a second term.

“We have to take everything that Donald Trump says literally and seriously,” Cheney said in an interview that aired Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Trump mocked questions about authoritarianism at an event billed as a "town hall" with Fox News host Sean Hannity last week. The former president said he would be a dictator only on “day one.”

“After that I’m not a dictator OK?” Trump remarked.

Trump’s comments come as his rhetoric faces heightened scrutiny after he referred to his political opponents as “vermin,” a term that echoes authoritarian and fascist leaders such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Cheney, who was effectively ousted by House Republicans for her criticism of Trump, pointed to the former president's efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 election while arguing that Trump’s dictator comments should not be taken as a joke.

“People need to remember that when Donald Trump woke up on the morning of Jan. 6, he thought was going to remain as president. And we saw the extent to which he was willing to attempt to seize powers when he lost an election,” Cheney said.

The former Wyoming lawmaker said a second Trump presidency would be “worse” than his first term “because he has had practice and because those people who were around him who actually did stop the worst he was trying to do would not be around him again.”

“Our institutions don’t protect themselves. It’s the people who do,” she added.

Cheney told USA TODAY in an interview last week that she has not ruled out running for president in 2024 and joining a bipartisan ticket, such as one proposed by the group No Labels. However, she said she wouldn’t run if it would help Trump’s reelection chances and siphon votes away from President Joe Biden.

Former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney speaks at the Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island, Michigan.
Former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney speaks at the Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Liz Cheney: Donald Trump's 'dictator' remark should be taken literally