GOP censures Cheney and Kinzinger as it attacks Jan. 6 investigation


Censorship accuses Cheney and Kinzinger of “participating in a Democratic-led persecution”.

FILE – Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., listen as the House Select Committee Investigating the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol Meeting at Capitol Hill Hill in Washington on October 29. 19, 2021. Republican Party officials voted to punish Cheney and Kinzinger and proposed a rule change that would bar candidates from participating in presidential debates hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates. GOP officials voted to approve both measures at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY, AP — The Republican National Committee on Friday censured two GOP lawmakers for serving on the committee investigating the violent Jan. 6 uprising and attacked the panel for leading a “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse”.

GOP officials voted to approve the censure of Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois at the party’s winter meeting in Salt Lake City. The censorship was approved a day after an RNC subcommittee watered down a resolution that had recommended kicking the couple out of the party.

The censor accuses Cheney and Kinzinger of “participating in a persecution carried out by the Democrats”.

RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel denied that the ‘legitimate political speech’ wording in the censorship referred to the violent attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump and said it had to do with other actions taken by the House committee investigating the Jan 6, 2021, insurrection. But the resolution makes no such distinction.

RNC members are challenging what they see as overbroad subpoenas, including one for Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward. Ward, an osteopathic doctor, filed a lawsuit to block the subpoena and argues that providing his phone records would compromise patients’ privacy.

“Why are you leaving? What are you looking for? You should have a specific range,” said Oklahoma RNC member Pam Pollard.

But GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who voted to convict Trump in his two impeachment trials, excoriated his party for censure.

“Shame falls on a party that would censor people of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol,” he tweeted. “Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for pursuing the truth, even though it comes at a high personal cost.”

McDaniel is his niece.

As Salt Lake City Republicans tied the party even more closely to Trump, his former vice president, Mike Pence, berated him. Speaking to the conservative Federalist Society of Florida, Pence said Trump was “wrong” to suggest he could have canceled the election.

“I had no right to void the election,” he said, also noting that Jan. 6 was “a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.”

McDaniel and his co-chair Tommy Hicks focused their remarks to RNC members on the 2022 midpoints and key tenets of their platform – crime rates, parental rights over school curriculum choices and pandemic restrictions on businesses. Although they barely mentioned the former president by name, Trump’s influence among party officials was underscored by censorship and criticism from the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Cheney, of Wyoming, and Kinzinger, of Illinois, are the only two Republicans on the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Trump and other GOP members were furious when Kinzinger and Cheney accepted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s invitation to join the Democratic-led House committee, giving the Jan. 6 panel a veneer of credibility bipartite.

The most important element of the censure is a call for the party to no longer support Cheney and Kinzinger as Republicans.

The censorship — combined with support from Wyoming RNC members — allows the party to invoke a rule to support candidates other than Cheney. This sets in motion a way for the party to support Cheney’s main opponent, Harriet Hageman, who has been endorsed by Trump. Wyoming’s primary takes place in August.

Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler said in a statement that the move overturned the will of Wyoming voters.

“Frank Eathorne and the Republican National Committee are trying to assert their will and take away the voice of the people of Wyoming before even a single vote has been cast,” he said, referring to the president of Wyoming. GOP who co-sponsored the resolution.

Kinzinger is not running for election.

RNC members also voted in favor of a rule change that would bar their candidates from participating in debates organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

The institution has been a fixture in presidential elections for three decades, but Republicans have decried the format as biased. After moving forward on Friday, the rule change is expected to be completed when the RNC meets in the summer.

Republicans take issue with former moderators who they perceive to be left-leaning and remarks about Trump made by commission co-chair Mike McCurry.

“Rebuilding trust in our elections means making sure our candidate can compete on a level playing field,” McDaniel said in a speech Friday.

“We’re not walking away from the debates, we’re walking away from the Commission on Presidential Debates because it’s a biased monopoly that doesn’t serve the best interests of the American people,” she added.

Even with a change in the rules, the decision whether or not to participate in commission-sponsored debates will rest with the eventual GOP nominee in 2024.


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