Republican Senator rebukes RNC, calls Jan. 6 ‘violent insurrection’
Republicans were slammed after censuring two lawmakers for joining the investigation into former US President Donald Trump's role in the Capitol attack.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, is slamming the Republican National Committee for censuring two House GOP legislators probing the "violent insurgency" on Jan. 6, 2021, claiming it is not the party's role to police lawmakers' beliefs.
At the RNC's winter meeting in Salt Lake City, the RNC took a voice vote to approve censuring Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, despite former President Donald Trump's efforts to downplay the attack by his supporters last year, which was the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries.
The two Republicans are members of a House committee chaired by Democrats that is conducting a thorough investigation into the siege and has subpoenaed numerous members of the former President's inner circle.
The RNC resolution censured Cheney and Kinzinger, accusing the House panel of spearheading a "persecution of regular Americans engaged in lawful political conversation" - statements that enraged Democrats and provoked vehement opposition from some Republican senators. Policemen were savagely beaten by protesters who broke into the Capitol through windows and doors, disrupting the certification of President Joe Biden's victory over Trump.
“It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election from one administration to the next,” McConnell said Tuesday. He said he still has confidence in RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, but “the issue is whether or not the RNC should be sort of singling out members of our party who may have different views than the majority. That’s not the job of the RNC.”
Internal party feud
The feud is the latest in a series of squabbles within the party about subjects that McConnell and others consider as politically advantageous to discuss in an election year – inflation, for example – as well as debate over the insurgency and Trump's election lies.
Despite the fact that election officials and courts across the country had disproved Trump's false claims of massive voting fraud and a rigged election, rioters stormed the Capitol and repeated his false assertions. McConnell and his closest allies have emphasized for months that they want to focus on November 2022, when they have a chance to retake the Senate, rather than January 2021, when they have a chance to retake the Senate.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a Republican, said Monday that the Republican National Committee has stated that it wants the party to be united, "and that was not a unifying action." Alabama Senator Richard Shelby believes the Republican Party should be a "big tent" party. McDaniel's uncle, Utah Senator Mitt Romney, said the censure "could not have been a more improper message."
Romney claimed that he discussed the censure with his niece through text message. "Anything that my party does that appears to be dumb will not benefit us," he told reporters.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins said that the rioters who “broke windows and breached the Capitol were not engaged in legitimate political discourse, and to say otherwise is absurd.”
Collins claimed that the GOP began the year with an advantage on topics that might decide the race, but that "every second spent re-litigating a lost election or defending those who have been convicted of criminal activity pulls us further away from our goal of success this fall."
RNC subcommittee resolution
After an RNC subcommittee toned down a resolution that suggested the pair be expelled from the party, the censure was passed last week. The "legitimate political discourse" language in the censure resolution, according to McDaniel, did not allude to the physical attack on the Capitol, but rather to previous acts done by the House committee examining the insurgency on Jan. 6, 2021. The resolution, on the other hand, made no such distinction.
In the aftermath of the censure vote, Cheney said she had received a "tremendous amount of support." "I think every American who saw the footage of that incident and watched it unfold realizes that it was truly terrible to suggest that what happened that day could be considered respectable political speech," she said.
Few Republicans explicitly defended the RNC's decision, but several claimed it was the party's prerogative to do so.
“The RNC has any right to take any action and the position that I have is that you’re ultimately held accountable to voters in your district,” said New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 Republican in the House. “We’re going to hear the feedback and the views of voters pretty quickly here this year.”
Cheney and Kinzinger's participation on the Jan. 6 panel, according to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, is "not helpful." Republicans in Washington, including McConnell, are "bashing other Republicans," according to Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who spearheaded challenges to the certification of Biden's victory on Jan. 6.
“If you come to the state of Missouri and talk to Republicans, people who are going to be voting in our primary, they probably agree with what the RNC did,” Hawley said.
2 lawyers censured
Republicans censured two lawmakers for joining the investigation into former US President Donald Trump's role in the 2021 US Capitol riots, calling the January 6 attack a "legitimate political discourse."
Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the lone Republicans on the House select committee probing the January 6 attack, are regarded as adversaries of the ex-President, who retains his grip on the party despite losing the 2020 election.
The 168 Republican National Committee (RNC) members gathered for their winter meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, and approved a formal censure accusing the pair of behavior that is "destructive to the US House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic."
The resolution called the investigation "a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse."
Investigators are probing links between the Trump administration and the former President's supporters who invaded the Capitol on the day it was due to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.