Republicans punish two of their own members of Congress for probing insurrection

Vote to censure Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger highlights Republican National Committee's loyalty to former president Donald Trump

US Republican members of Congress Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger at a committee hearing in Washington. AFP
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The Republican Party on Friday censured two of its own — representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — over their involvement in the US Congress's investigation into former president Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Ms Cheney and Mr Kinzinger voted to impeach Mr Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection after last year's deadly January 6 Capitol riot and are the only Republicans taking part in the House of Representatives' investigation into the attack.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) on Friday passed a resolution rebuking Ms Cheney and Mr Kinzinger for their involvement on the January 6 select committee, accusing them of “participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse”, a copy of the resolution obtained by Reuters read.

The resolution passed on a voice vote as 168 members of the RNC gathered for their winter meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The yes votes were overwhelming, with a handful of nays, reporters at the meeting said.

The resolution said their actions have damaged Republican efforts to win back majorities in Congress.

The measure said the RNC will “immediately cease any and all support of them” as party members, but stops short of calling for their removal from the party, as initially proposed.

Mr Trump, who retains a strong grip over his party as November 8 midterm congressional elections draw closer, has been on the warpath against Republicans who have taken a stand against him. Republicans are trying to take control of both the House and the Senate from President Joe Biden's fellow Democrats.

Both members of Congress issued statements before Friday's vote.

“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 January 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy,” Ms Cheney said, referring to the hundreds of Trump supporters accused of various crimes in the violent attack.

Four people died on January 6 and a Capitol Police officer died the next day. About 140 police officers were injured and four later died by suicide.

Liz and Dick Cheney join Democrats to mark January 6 attack anniversary

Liz and Dick Cheney join Democrats to mark January 6 attack anniversary

Ms Cheney said she does not recognise those in her party who “abandoned the constitution to embrace Donald Trump”, who has endorsed her challenger in the Wyoming Republican primary.

Mr Kinzinger, who is not seeking re-election, said he has been a conservative Republican since before Mr Trump entered politics. He vowed to continue “working to fight the political matrix that's led us to this point".

Not all Republicans are lining up against the two.

Republican Mitt Romney praised Ms Cheney and Mr Kinzinger as honourable in a Twitter post on Friday. “Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol,” the senator wrote.

At least 71 Republican members of Congress transferred money last year to the campaigns of congressional Republicans, including Ms Cheney's, that supported booting Mr Trump from office, a Reuters analysis found.

Bill Cassidy, another Republican senator, came to their defence late Thursday, writing on Twitter, “The RNC is censuring Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger because they are trying to find out what happened on January 6th — HUH?”

Updated: June 21, 2023, 7:55 AM