GOP Censured 2 of Its Own, and a Backlash Is Growing

Lindsey Graham is among those accusing the RNC of looking backward instead of forward
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2022 10:25 AM CST
GOP Censured 2 of Its Own, and a Backlash Is Growing
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. were censured by the Republican National Committee for joining the investigation of the Capitol riot.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Republican National Committee's decision to censure two lawmakers from its own party is not sitting well with some big-name Republicans. Coverage in multiple outlets quotes GOP members of Congress who say the strike against Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger was misguided and could potentially hurt a party that was otherwise cruising toward the midterm elections. Coverage:

  • The censure: The RNC, led by Ronna McDaniel, called out Cheney and Kinzinger for joining the House investigation of the Capitol riot. The resolution accused them of participating in the "persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse." Later, McDaniel appeared to try to clarify by issuing a statement specifying the persecution of people who "had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol," per the Hill.

  • First front: Despite McDaniel's clarification, many lawmakers were angry the RNC referred to the events of Jan. 6 as "legitimate political discourse." Sen. Susan Collins tells Politico that those "who assaulted police officers, broke windows, and breached the Capitol were not engaged in legitimate political discourse, and to say otherwise is absurd." Politico spoke to more than a dozen GOP senators, and only Rand Paul supported the censure.
  • Second front: More GOP lawmakers, however, were angrier that the RNC remained focused on the 2020 election and its aftermath. Sen. Lindsey Graham, for example, called McDaniel to vent, reports the Politico Playbook blog. "All of us up here want to talk about forward not backward," he said. The blog post adds that such internal sentiment is widespread, from rank-and-file Republicans up to leadership posts.
  • Uncle Mitt: It's not a big surprise that Trump critic Mitt Romney was displeased, but his case is notable in that McDaniel is his niece. "A very unfortunate decision by the RNC," he said, per Politico. Romney also said he exchanged texts with McDaniel, per the Hill. Amid speculation that her job may be in danger, Romney added, "I think she's a wonderful person and doing her very best."
  • Damage control: The RNC put out a statement Monday that "Republicans in both chambers of Congress and across the country remain united" in efforts to win back the House and Senate, per CNN. And Sen. Ted Cruz voiced support for the RNC move: "There's no doubt that there were tens of thousands of people engaged in peaceful free speech that the press and Democrats try to demonize falsely," he said. On the other hand, fellow GOP Sen. John Cornyn said, per Newsweek: "I don't think you can kick out of the party everybody you disagree with. Or it's going to be a minority party."
(More Republican National Committee stories.)

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