Friday, May 20, 2022

Republicans censure Cheney, Kinzinger, call Jan. 6 probe attack on 'legitimate political discourse'

Republicans censure Cheney, Kinzinger, call Jan. 6 probe attack on 'legitimate political discourse'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican Party on Friday censured US Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for joining Congress' investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack and Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 presidential election defeat, calling the probe an attack on "legitimate political discourse."

Cheney and Kinzinger are the only Republicans on the House of Representatives Jan. 6 select committee. The panel is investigating who including people in Trump's circle had any role in planning or enabling the worst assault on the US Capitol since the War of 1812.

The resolution censuring Cheney and Kinzinger, approved at a Republican National Committee meeting in Salt Lake City, accused them of "participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse."

Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol that day, smashing windows, assaulting police officers and sending lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence running for their lives after Trump made a fiery speech repeating his false claims that his election defeat was the result of widespread fraud.

Friday's vote was dramatically different in tone from a statement the Republican National Committee released the day of the attack, when it said "these violent scenes we have witnessed do not represent acts of patriotism, but an attack on our country and its founding principles."

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Friday's resolution targeted the Jan. 6 committee probe, which has subpoenaed a range of politicians and Trump White House aides as it tries to piece together their role in events leading to the assault.

"Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger crossed a line. They chose to join Nancy 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," she said. She said she "condemned violence on both sides of the aisle."

The resolution passed on a voice vote as 168 members of the RNC gathered for their winter meeting. The yes votes were overwhelming, with a handful of nays, according to reporters at the meeting.

Cheney and Kinzinger voted to impeach Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection, and they joined the seven Democrats on the panel investigating the attack.

The resolution said Cheney and Kinzinger have damaged Republican efforts to win back majorities in Congress.

The measure said the RNC will "immediately cease any and all support of them" as party members, but stops short of calling for their ouster from the party, as initially proposed. The committee uses some of its funds to help support Republican candidates in their campaigns.