Mitch McConnell criticized the Republican National Committee for censuring Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger over their work for the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, which he characterized as a “violent insurrection”.
The Senate minority leader said it was not the party’s place to single out members over their views. Speaking with reporters outside Senate Republicans’ closed-door weekly lunch, McConnell rebuked the RNC for its characterization of the deadly riot at the Capitol as “legitimate political discourse”.
“Let me give you my view of what happened on 6 1 월,” McConnell said. “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.”
Asked whether he had confidence in the leadership of the RNC chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, who supported the censure resolution, McConnell said he did.
“But 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.”
His use of the word “insurrection” – the act of rising up against established authority – is significant. Many in his party have insisted that it was not an insurrection, downplaying the attack or trying to portray it as a peaceful protest.
A few prominent Republicans have pushed against the RNC’s decision to censure the two GOP members of the House committee investigating the attack. Mitt Romney, a Republican senator of Utah and McDaniel’s uncle, told reporters that the censure “could not have been a more inappropriate” message from the party.
McConnell, who blocked initial efforts to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 공격, has signaled that he sees the party’s focus on defending Donald Trump and the insurrection his supporters staged following the 2020 elections as a distraction. He and some fellow Republican lawmakers have aimed to shift the focus to the midterm elections this year.
Maine senator Susan Collins said rioters who “broke windows and breached the Capitol were not engaged in legitimate political discourse” and characterized time “spent re-litigating a lost election or defending those who have been convicted of criminal behavior” as a wasted opportunity to focus on the midterms when the Republicans have a chance to re-take a majority in congress.
But other Republicans have stood by the RNC’s move, with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy telling CNN that the censure was meant to condemn the committee’s questioning of conservatives “who weren’t even here” when the attack occurred.
The Associated Press contributed reporting