(WASHINGTON) — While most Republicans were absent on Capitol Hill for the Jan. 6 anniversary Thursday, one of the party’s most prominent elder statesmen was there.
ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl spoke to former Vice President Dick Cheney just off the House floor.
Asked why he came to the Capitol this day, Cheney said, “It’s an important historical event,” referring to the anniversary of the insurrection. “You can’t overestimate how important it is.”
He added, “I’m deeply disappointed we don’t have better leadership in the Republican Party to restore the Constitution.”
He noted that his daughter, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., is an exception. She is the vice chair of the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol, and has come under heavy fire from fellow Republicans.
Cheney then went to the House floor with his daughter — he has lifetime floor privileges as a congressman who held the seat she now occupies — to observe a moment of silence.
One by one, Democratic members, including some liberals who castigated him and his politics when he was vice president — approached him to shake his hand and pay their respects.
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Besides the Cheneys and her staffers, there were no other Republicans in sight.
As Cheney departed the House chamber, walking alongside his daughter, he told ABC News, “Very proud of Liz,” when asked for some parting thoughts.
“It’s great coming back,” he told a swarm of reporters. “Liz is doing a hell of a job. I’m here to support her.”
When asked for his reaction to Republican leadership’s handling of this day, Cheney — not one to mince words — said, “Well, it’s not a leadership that resembles any of the folks that I knew when I was here for 10 years — dramatically.”
Rep Liz Cheney said it was “very concerning,” adding, “I think a party that is in thrall to a cult personality is a party that is dangerous to the country, and I think we clearly have got to get to a place we are we are focused on substance and on issues.”
The former vice president then took the long walk across the Capitol toward the Senate chamber, stopping momentarily to take in a white stone bust of himself outside the office of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who is far from the Capitol, and instead, at a funeral for a late GOP senator in Atlanta.
ABC News’ Trish Turner, Benjamin Siegel and Mariam Khan contributed to this report.
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