▶ Watch Video: Rep. Liz Cheney looks to the future after Wyoming primary loss

Rep. Liz Cheney — a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump — has signaled that she may leave the GOP, saying, “If [Trump] is the nominee, I won’t be a Republican.”

“I certainly will do whatever it takes to make sure Donald Trump isn’t anywhere close to the Oval Office,” the Wyoming Republican told Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith at the paper’s festival on Saturday.

Cheney also said Saturday that she would be willing to stump for Democrats, the first time she has said so explicitly. The comments were made in response to a question about Wyoming gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, a supporter of Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

“I am going to do everything I can to make sure that Kari Lake is not elected,” Cheney said, to which Smith asked if that meant potentially campaigning for Democrats. 

Cheney’s response: “Yes, it does.”

Cheney has served as the representative for Wyoming’s at-large congressional district since 2017 — but she was defeated soundly in her August primary against Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman.

Cheney is the vice chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, one of only two Republicans on the committee. Cheney is also one of only 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. Both were positions that appeared to work against her during her campaign for reelection. 

Only two of the 10 GOP House members who voted to impeach Trump survived their primary challenges, while three others were defeated and four chose to either retire or not seek reelection. According to NPR, the majority of candidates Trump endorsed in the 2022 midterms have prevailed, and also said that they support the former president’s false claims about the 2020 election.

In her concession speech last month, Cheney said, “We must be very clear-eyed about the threat we face and about what is required to defeat it. I have said since January 6 that I will do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office, and I mean it.”

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) gives a concession speech to supporters during a primary night event on August 16, 2022 in Jackson, Wyoming.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Cheney’s term will end on Jan. 3, 2023. Speculation has brewed around a potential presidential bid for Cheney in 2024, but she has not made any definitive public statements one way or the other on the matter. When Smith asked Cheney whether she planned to announce her candidacy, Cheney deflected:

“What are we going to do to make sure that our kids know what it means to have peaceful transfers of power?” she responded. “And what are we going to do to make sure that we don’t contribute to the unraveling of the Republic? … That’s what I’m focused on.”