RNC Censures Cheney, Kinzinger, Calls Jan. 6 “Legitimate Political Discourse”

On Friday, the Republican National Committee (RNC) voted on a motion to censure two GOP lawmakers in Congress over their anti-Trump stances and their attempts to hold the former president and his allies accountable for the January 6 Capitol attack.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) will not be removed from the party, but their censure will serve as a stark rebuke from the Republican Party for their views regarding former President Donald Trump.

“We don’t want to disenfranchise those voters. But at the same way [sic], we want to send a message that we are disapproving of their conduct,” California Republican Harmeet Dhillon said.

The censure resolution itself, which was forwarded by the party’s Resolution Committee on Thursday and passed a vote on Friday afternoon, cites the lawmakers’ work with the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building. The resolution also points to the lawmakers’ efforts to “destroy President Trump” as a reason why they are being reprimanded by the party.

The Republican Party claims within the measure that Cheney and Kinzinger, by involving themselves with the January 6 commission, were engaging in the “persecution” of Trump loyalists who attacked the Capitol while the 2020 presidential election was being certified, alarmingly describing the violence seen on that day as “legitimate political discourse.”

The censure measure appears to have the support of RNC chair Ronna McDaniel.

In spite of the resolution’s language, Dhillon insists that Cheney’s and Kinzinger’s views on Trump aren’t the reason why they are being censured.

“There are plenty of other people in the party who are anti-Trump whose names don’t appear in the resolution,” Dhillon said to Politico. “These two took specific action to defy party leadership.”

In anticipation of the vote, Cheney issued a statement noting that the Republican Party has taken an extreme far right turn since Trump became its de facto leader.

“The leaders of the Republican Party have made themselves willing hostages to a man who admits he tried to overturn a presidential election and suggests he would pardon Jan. 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy,” Cheney wrote. “I’m a constitutional conservative and I do not recognize those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump.”

Some Democratic lawmakers came to Cheney and Kinzinger’s defense, pointing out that the censure resolution was indicative of how extreme the GOP has become.

“In today’s GOP no one is censured for crimes & corruption. Fomenting insurrection, insider trading, fraud, sex trafficking with a minor – all good!” tweeted Rep. Jared Huffman, a Democratic congressman from California. “But dare to OPPOSE crimes/corruption & it’s censure time.”

Although the censure aims to punish Cheney and Kinzinger for their anti-Trump views, it may end up working to their advantage. According to an analysis from NBC News, Republicans who voted to impeach Trump have received more campaign donations than their pro-Trump counterparts — including Cheney, who raised four times more than her primary opponent Harriet Hageman in the last three months of last year.