GOP's bungling of Cheney, Kinzinger censure resolution draws rebuke from McConnell

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell knocked the Republican National Committee on Tuesday for its decision last week to censure the two Republican members of the Jan. 6 select committee.

“That’s not the job of the RNC,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, told CNN’s Manu Raju at the Capitol. “Traditionally the view of the national party committee is we support all members of our party regardless of their positions on some issues.”

McConnell also responded to language in the text of the censure resolution in which the RNC described the Jan. 6 committee’s work as “a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

“Let me give you my view on what happened Jan. 6th. We all were here,” 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.”

McConnell’s comments were the latest black eye for the RNC and its chair, Ronna McDaniel. Numerous Republican senators have already criticized the censure resolution, including McDaniel’s uncle, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.

“I don’t know any American that regards that as legitimate political discourse. I certainly haven’t encountered that here in the state of Indiana,” said Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.

The RNC has said that the phrase “legitimate political discourse” was not intended to refer to those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, but only to those who did not assault police or enter the Capitol and have been subpoenaed by the committee.

But the RNC’s mishandling of the censure text has made the entire episode a referendum on the Jan. 6 attack, rather than on the two Republicans the RNC intended to penalize: Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Kinzinger has announced he’ll be leaving Congress at the end of the current term, while Cheney is attempting to fend off a Trump-backed primary opponent.

The episode has also given a boost of energy to those in the party who want the GOP to move on from the former president.

Mike Pence
Former Vice President Mike Pence. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP) (AP)

Former Vice President Mike Pence showed signs last Friday — the same day as the censure resolution — that he is willing to confront Donald Trump’s continued lies about the 2020 election head on.

In a speech to the conservative Federalist Society, Pence rejected Trump’s continued claims that Pence had power under the Constitution to set aside or reject Electoral College votes. Trump pressured Pence to do so as part of an effort to overturn a free, fair and legal election in which over 155 million Americans safely cast ballots.

“President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election,” Pence said. “The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. Frankly, there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”