Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Leader in the House, has said that the events of January 6th amounted to a violent insurrection, acting in agreement with Mitch McConnell’s description.
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‘No one would disagree with that,’ McCarthy said to reporters.
In a clarification, McCarthy responded to Democrats who mocked him for walking away from a reporter from ABC News when she asked him about Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney’s censure because they serve on the Democrat-run committee investigating the insurrection.
As a reporter tried to question him, McCarthy was filmed walking away from him in the halls of the Capitol Building.
NBC News talked to McCarthy later and he said anyone who broke into the Capitol on January 6th was not engaging in ‘legitimate political discourse.’ He added he didn’t think the censure of Cheney and Kinzinger – the two Republicans serving on the panel – was about that.
‘I think anybody, we all know this, who entered this building, that rioted, is not legitimate political discourse,’ he replied. ‘But I don’t think that’s what the RNC was talking about when you talk to them.’
McCarty said ‘legitimate discourse’ was meant to refer to alternative electors who have been subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot despite the fact that they were in Florida at the time.
When asked if he agreed with the censure of Kinzinger and Cheney, he replied: ‘I think there’s a reason why Adam is not running again. I think there’s a reason why at the end of the day, Liz would have a hard time winning here if she runs, and I don’t think she runs.’
Cheney is running for re-election, but Kinzinger is not. Cheney has outraised her congressional GOP primary opponent, who is backed by former President Donald Trump. Cheney also enjoys the support of several well-known Republicans, including Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and George W. Bush. Although according to the latest poll taken in December, Cheney would lose the election as her top challenger has 38% support vs 18% for the incumbent.
McCarthy’s comments come at a time when the Republican Party is waging an internal struggle over Trump’s attempt to avoid impeachment – from his claim that he won the election to his defense of the MAGA crowd who stormed the Capitol on January 6th in order to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
Earlier this week, Trump blasted McConnell, saying that he does ‘not represent the voice of the Republican Party’ after McConnell called January 6 an ‘insurrection’ and bemoaned the censure of Kinzinger & Cheney.
Trump ripped into McConnell for not stopping the Biden administration, the ‘fraudulent election’ or the ‘persecution of political opponents’ in a blistering statement yesterday. His comments deepen divisions in the GOP, a party some say is on the brink of a civil war.
‘Mitch McConnell does not speak for the Republican Party, and does not represent the views of the vast majority of its voters, Trump declared yesterday.
‘He did nothing to fight for his constituents and stop the most fraudulent election in American history. And he does nothing to stop the lawless Biden Administration, the invasion of our Borders, rising Inflation, Unconstitutional mandates, the persecution of political opponents, fact finding on the incompentent [sic] Afghanistan withdrawal, the giving away our energy independence, etc., which is all because of the fraudulent election. Instead, he bails out the Radical Left and the RINOs.’
Trump responded shortly after McConnell brushed off Trump’s comments, joking that ‘Old Crow’ was his ‘favorite bourbon’ and said no Republicans wanted him removed from leadership.
According to McConnell, the name has been catching on inside the Capitol, reflecting his casual attitude toward the insult. ‘Aren’t we using Old Crow as my moniker now? It was Henry Clay’s favorite bourbon,’ McConnell said to an aide.
Even after McConnell helped expedite Trump’s tax cuts and court nominees, Trump and McConnell have had a long-running feud. In spite of voting for Trump’s acquittal in his second impeachment, McConnell denounced Trump after the January 6 riot.
McConnell said he believed January 6 was an ‘insurrection’ after the RNC passed a resolution that said the Democrat committee’s probe of January 6 was persecution of protesters engaged in ‘legitimate political discourse.’ The resolution censured Cheney and Kinzinger.
In response to the growing fallout from the resolution, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel says repeatedly her statement about ‘legitimate’ discourse does not apply to those who faced off with D.C. and Capitol Police.
McCarthy told CNN, ‘Anybody who broke in and caused damage, that was not called for. Those people, we’ve said from the very beginning, should be in jail.’ He denounced the riot at the time but turned to try to heal a divide with Trump
McDaniel stated in an op-ed after the controversy: ‘I have repeatedly condemned the violence that occurred at the Capitol on January 6th and do so again today.’
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Cheney, one of several Republicans Trump is campaigning to defeat in primaries, condemned Trump’s move.
‘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. 6th defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy,’ Cheney posted to Twitter.
The action is unfolding when Republicans hope to see big gains in the midterms and retake the House and Senate because of Biden’s tanking approval ratings.