The Republican National Committee passed a resolution on Friday censuring two party members, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for their positions as members of the January 6th Committee, the congressional effort to investigate the attack on the Capitol in 2021.
The resolution, which passed by voice vote at the RNC meeting in Salt Lake City, said that Cheney and Kinzinger “are participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse, and they are both utilizing their past professed political affiliation to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes.”
The reference to “ordinary citizens” participating in “legitimate political discourse” quickly generated attention as another example of the way that party leaders have sought to downplay the Capitol siege and the events surrounding it, a view that also has been echoed by commentators such as Tucker Carlson.
Nine people died during the riot or afterward, even as there is some dispute as to whether the circumstances of all of the deaths can be linked to January 6th. Hundreds of others were injured.
The censure means that the RNC will cease support for Kinzinger, who is not running for reelection, and Cheney, who is facing a Donald Trump-backed opponent in the party primary. The resolution was not read aloud at the RNC meeting, but it passed by a voice vote conducted by chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
McDaniel later denied that the reference to “legitimate political discourse” referred to the attack itself. She wrote that “Cheney and Kinzinger’s decision to join Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.”
Trump was impeached a week after the January 6th attack, but eventually was acquitted in the Senate.
The RNC did not take action against Donald Trump for his role in the January 6th siege, even though a number of Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), were critical of the then-president. But as the investigation has proceeded, and has delved into the extent to which Trump sought to convince Vice President Mike Pence to reject the Electoral Vote count on that date, the former president has declared that he would pardon those being prosecuted or already sentenced for their role in the riot.
After the vote, Cheney posted video of the violence on January 6th, and the message, “This is not ‘legitimate political discourse.'”
This was January 6th.
This is not “legitimate political discourse.” pic.twitter.com/lKgbVyVcJr
— Rep. Liz Cheney (@RepLizCheney) February 4, 2022
Before the RNC vote, she wrote, “The leaders of the Republican Party have made themselves willing hostages to a man who admits he tried to overturn a presidential election and suggests he would pardon Jan. 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy.
“I’m a constitutional conservative and I do not recognize those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump. History will be their judge. I will never stop fighting for our constitutional republic. No matter what.”
Kinzinger wrote, “I have no regrets about my decision to uphold my oath of office and defend the Constitution. I will continue to focus my efforts on standing for truth and working to fight the political matrix that’s led us to where we find ourselves today.”
McDaniel’s uncle, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who voted to convict Trump, wrote, “Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol. Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost.”
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