Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the two Republican House members willing to stake their reputations on it having been bad that Donald Trump incited an insurrection to prevent the peaceful transition of power, are in for it now. Republican National Committee Chair Ronna No-Longer-Romney McDaniel and Trump ally David Bossie drafted a censure resolution against Cheney and Kinzinger, who are apparently endangering the entire Republican Party, and every single bad thing that happens to Republicans from now on is all their fault.
The censure resolution, scaled back slightly from an earlier version that called for Cheney and Kinzinger to be expelled from the Republican conference, passed the RNC resolutions committee on Thursday, and McDaniel told reporters she expected it to pass the entire RNC winter meeting “overwhelmingly” on Friday morning. Perhaps even more significantly, leaders of the Wyoming Republican Party signed a letter calling Cheney’s primary challenger, Harriet Hageman, the presumptive nominee for the seat Cheney is running to retain. That move would allow the national Republican Party to financially support Hageman, who has so far been badly outraised by Cheney.
“If the price of being willing to tell the truth and get to the bottom of what happened on January 6, and make sure that those who are responsible are held accountable is a censure, then I am absolutely going to continue to stand up for what I knew was right,” Cheney told CNN in response to the resolution. “And I think that it is a sad day for the party of Lincoln that that's where we are.”
Kinzinger also responded, tweeting that he was “now even more committed to fighting conspiracies and lies,” and that, “Rather than focus their efforts on how to help the American people, my fellow Republicans have chosen to censure two lifelong Members of their party for simply upholding their oaths of office. They've allowed conspiracies and toxic tribalism hinder their ability to see clear-eyed.”
Former RNC Chair Michael Steele also opposed the move, tweeting, “As the former chairman of the Republican party, I cannot express enough my condemnation of this pathetic act of cowardice taken by its current leadership to censure @Liz_Cheney and @RepKinzinger. You are wrong. I stand with Liz and Adam.”
The whole censure resolution is a piece of work, but here’s perhaps the best part (where “best” means most revealing of the utter rot and corruption of the Republican Party establishment). Cheney and Kinzinger are, according to the resolution, “participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.” While it is the case that there were “ordinary citizens” involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the select committee investigating it is not largely focused on ordinary citizens. It’s focused on former top White House staffers like Kayleigh McEnany; on John Eastman, the Trump legal adviser who laid out a strategy to overturn the 2020 election; on the "alternate electors" who tried to replace the legally appointed electors in several states; and on Donald Trump himself, who lost a court battle to keep the committee from getting his records.
These are not ordinary citizens. The people who were ordinary citizens right up until they participated in an insurrection, stormed and vandalized the Capitol, attacked police, and threatened the lives of lawmakers are being prosecuted in court. The leaders who laid the groundwork for the attack and for the broader attempted coup it was a part of are where the select committee’s real focus appears to be—as it should be.
But that’s just one of a number of howlers (and you could be howling in startled laughter or stunned outrage, or both) in the censure resolution. See, the entire Republican effort to win in 2022 stands to be tanked by these two Republicans, one of them fighting for her political life as she faces a serious primary challenge and the other retiring from Congress. “WHEREAS,” it reads, “The Conference must not be sabotaged by Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger who have demonstrated, with actions and words, that they support Democrat efforts to destroy President Trump more than they support winning back a Republican majority in 2022.”
In the same vein, “WHEREAS, Congressional Republicans bear ultimate responsibility for their own success or failure and the RNC supports their efforts by denouncing those who deliberately jeopardize victory in November on which the future of our constitutional republic depends at this critical moment in history.”
Winning is first and foremost. And it’s not the attempted coup that puts both winning and the future of the constitutional republic at risk. It’s the people investigating it. Got that? I dunno, it kind of sounds like Republicans might be getting legitimately nervous about what the select committee is going to turn up.
Cheney and Kinzinger have decided that opposing an effort to overturn an election is more important than their party’s immediate electoral prospects. For that, Republicans propose to formally censure them for “behavior which has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic”—or anyway to the one of those three institutions today’s Republicans actually care about—“and is inconsistent with the position of the Conference.” Yeah. And that’s the problem. That’s why these committed Republicans—Dick Cheney’s daughter, for heaven’s sake—are so conspicuously putting country above party. Because their party forced them to make that choice.