The Republican National Committee formally censured Republican Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney on Friday for “engag[ing] in actions in their positions as members of the January 6th Select Committee not befitting Republican members of Congress,” including “participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.” The RNC resolution calls on the party to no longer support the pair as Republicans.
Republican-led condemnations of the RNC have been swift. “The RNC is censuring Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger because they are trying to find out what happened on January 6th – HUH?” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., tweeted in response. Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse took issue with the resolution’s description of anything that happened on Jan. 6 as “legitimate political discourse.” And Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, intoned that “shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol.”
Reasonable people can and do disagree about the stakes of what unfolded on Jan. 6, but let’s get one thing clear: what the Jan. 6 Select Committee is engaging in is not “truth seeking.” Its clear partisan agenda involves sweeping privacy violations against Americans who were miles away from the U.S. Capitol. As members of that committee, Cheney and Kinzinger are not acting on behalf of Republicans, but at the behest of the Democrats who put them there.
The actions of the Jan. 6 Committee and Kinzinger and Cheney’s role in them are intentionally sidestepped in all of the criticism, which makes it appear they are being punished simply for what they think or what they say.
From leftist media, this is not surprising. Corporate media doesn’t desire to cultivate conservative sources or seek to understand what drives half the country. They simply call them fascist racist rubes and move on. This complete lack of interest (and, you know, journalistic intellect) is why their pundits were blindsided by Donald Trump’s election in 2016. It’s why they’re likely to be completely wrong about what happens in 2024, too.
But if they took an honest look at what Cheney and Kinzinger have been up to, they’d see that the RNC’s response is entirely rational.
The Jan. 6 Select Committee is investigating an event that has already been investigated by federal law enforcement. The FBI – which seized banking, phone, social media, and geolocation records from the more than 700 people they arrested and charged – found no evidence of any central coordination or organization. Moreover, investigations demanded by Democratic House members into Republican House members, conducted by both the inspector general of the Capitol Police and the Government Accountability Office, have turned up nothing.
Despite this, the Select Committee insists there was some sort of central planning. In an attempt to harass as many people as possible to prove law enforcement wrong, they have issued huge dragnets for the personal emails, text messages, location records, and social media posts of a secret list of people that includes private American citizens who had nothing to do with entering the Capitol. They have likewise breached centuries of protocol by demanding the private phone records and testimony of their own House colleagues.
The Select Committee has now twice issued criminal contempt charges to the Department of Justice, suggesting they are comfortable with jailing their political opponents if they don’t comply with every single outrageous request. Moreover, the committee stubbornly refuses to investigate the known security failures that allowed entrance to the Capitol in the first place.
Cheney and Kinzinger have been willing participants in every part of this exercise – from unjustly violating the privacy of an untold number of Americans, to levying the threat of jail time against their House colleagues and members of their own party.
Critically, the duo isn’t “representing Republicans” in this effort. Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., appointed Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Jim Banks, R-Ind., to represent their party on the committee. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in another flagrant breach of protocol, refused to let them serve, resulting in McCarthy barring his members from participating in what is now, by the Select Committee’s own rules, an improperly constituted committee.
Pelosi reached out to Cheney and Kinzinger and asked them to participate, to which they both agreed. They are not serving at the behest of Republicans but at the request of the Democratic speaker. Thus they are not Republican members of the committee. They are Republicans acting as Democratic proxies.
All of this provides the proper context to understand why the RNC took the actions it did. Cheney and Kinzinger are not just issuing disapproving statements about Jan. 6 or publicly rebuking it. Rather, the pair are actively working against the interests of their own colleagues, and their own party, at the request and behest of congressional Democrats.
Cheney and Kinzinger both appear completely comfortable with and willing to aid Democrats in political weaponization of the House against Republicans. The appropriate response is for them to change parties – not to continue to claim the mantle and benefits of being members of a party they are actively seeking to undermine with their actions.
It is simply illogical for a party to continue to privilege members who repeatedly and tangibly work to oppose its interests. So in this sense, the actions of the RNC are not overwrought or even needlessly partisan. They are entirely rational. You don’t continue to bunk up with people who continually try to shiv you.
This article was originally published in the BRIGHT newsletter.