McConnell calls Jan. 6 a ‘violent insurrection,’ hits RNC for censure of Cheney, Kinzinger

WASHINGTON – Spotlighting a widening breach among Republicans, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell criticized the Republican National Committee on Tuesday for censuring Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and for suggesting that the Jan. 6 insurrection was “legitimate political discourse.”

Senator McConnell questions RNC leadership, calls out ‘violent insurrection’ of January 6

“It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent a peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election from one administration to the next,” McConnell told reporters. “That’s what it was.”

Four days after the RNC voted to censure House members Cheney and Kinzinger for participating in the Jan. 6 investigation, McConnell said the party organization should not be “picking and choosing” among candidates: “We support all members of our party, regardless of their positions on some issues.”

McConnell echoed other Republican lawmakers, who said the censure needlessly divided the party ahead of a challenging set of elections shadowed on the Republican side by former President Donald Trump and his continued insistence on false claims about the 2020 election.

“I don’t think you can kick out of the party everybody you disagree with, or it’s going to be a minority party,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

With the Senate deadlocked 50-50 between the parties – and controlled by the Democrats because of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote – the Republicans face toss-up Senate elections in places like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, states that Biden carried.

McConnell and other Republicans fear divisions over Trump could weaken some Republican nominees in closely contested states, a list that includes places like Ohio, Florida and North Carolina.

Republicans like Cheney have also said that party candidates should not be echoing Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in 2020, the inspiration for the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

The divisions could also affect U.S. House races.

Cheney, targeted by Trump for her vote to impeach him over Jan. 6, faces a primary challenge in Wyoming from a Republican backed by the former president, Harriet Hageman.

Kinzinger, who also voted to impeach Trump, is not seeking reelection because of redistricting in Illinois.

Other Republicans said critics of the censure are the ones dividing the party. Party members like Sen, Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said RNC members had every right to censure Cheney and Kinzinger, the only two Republican members of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“What is a distraction is to have a bunch of D.C. Republicans bashing other Republicans,” Hawley said. “Listen, whatever you think about the RNC vote, it reflects the view of most Republican voters.”

McConnell disputes riot was ‘legitimate political discourse’

Republicans like McConnell and Cornyn also criticized the censure resolution for suggesting that the Jan. 6 insurrection – which included Trump supporters physically assaulting police officers – constituted “legitimate political discourse.”

The wording of the resolution accused Cheney and Kinzinger  of “participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said that passage referred to bystanders who “had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol,” but have been swept up in Jan. 6 investigations.

More than 700 people have been arrested in connection with the attack on the Capitol.

McConnell did not cite the Jan. 6 resolution specifically but made clear to reporters that the attack was in no way peaceful or legitimate.

“We all were here,” McConnell said. “We saw what happened.”

RNC responds to McConnell

After his statements about the censure resolution, the RNC put out a written statement saying it “has repeatedly condemned all acts of political violence and lawlessness, including what occurred on Jan. 6.”

The RNC said Cheney, Kinzinger and the committee investigating Jan. 6 have “gone well beyond the scope of the events of that day, and is why the RNC overwhelmingly passed a resolution censuring” the two Republican House members.

McConnell said he still has confidence in RNC chairwoman McDaniel, but that is not the question.

“The issue is whether or not the RNC should be sort of singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority,” McConnell said. “That’s not the job of the RNC.”

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Per: USA Today

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