Shunned by G.O.P., Cheney and Kinzinger Seek Answers on Jan. 6 Riot
WASHINGTON – Outside the White House on Monday, the day before the first hearing to investigate the Capitol Riot, Representative Kevin McCarthy had an insult and threat to the two members of his party daring to participate in the investigation into how and why a pro Trump mob attacked the Capitol on Jan.6.
He mocked Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a staunch Conservative and member of a historic Republican family, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Congressman and Air Force veteran, as “Republicans of Pelosi.” Referring to the Speaker of the House who chose them to sit on the special panel investigating the assault. As the leader of the minority, he suggested he might try to strip them of other committee duties as punishment.
Around the same time, Ms Pelosi made it clear that the couple would play a leading role in the proceedings. Ms Cheney would be cast in the place traditionally played by a senior committee member, allowing her to make an opening statement immediately after the president, Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi.
The divergent moves reflected the unusual place Ms Cheney and Mr Kinzinger find themselves in as the investigation begins – ostracized by their own party and adopted by Democrats as the only Republicans willing to demand a full, bipartisan account of the worst attack on Congress in centuries.
Only a few months ago, Mr. McCarthy himself declared that President Donald J. Trump “bears the responsibility” for the mob violence; Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican, warned that following Mr. Trump’s lies about a stolen election would drag democracy into a “death spiral”; and dozens of Republicans called for an investigation into what happened on January 6.
But despite the injuries, blood and death that day, which threatened to end the string of peaceful transfers of presidential power to the United States, Republicans quickly lined up behind Mr. Trump. Some denied or downplayed the violence, others adopted conspiracy theories about who was to blame, and many simply pushed to stop talking about the riot.
Republican lawmakers who once demanded answers voted against forming an independent bipartisan commission to investigate, with just 35 MPs backing its creation. Even the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump have remained mostly silent.
Only Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger, who continued to speak out to denounce the former president and the violence he inspired, supported the creation of the select committee. He is due to hold his first hearing on Tuesday, when several police officers who fought the mob are due to testify.
The situation reflects what many Republicans say is their political reality: They know that Mr. Trump’s supporters, believing his lie of a stolen election, committed the violence on January 6, but they are also aware that linger on that could hurt their chances of recapturing the House in the 2022 election. So almost everyone tries to talk about everything – immigration, rising inflation, soaring crime rates – other than the riot, which they say Democrats want to keep in the news as much as possible and in the minds of voters.
All, that is, except Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger. They bet their political future lies in trying to turn the party into the one they say they grew up knowing. In their speech, they want to bring the Republican Party back to an idealized version of the Bush or Reagan administrations emphasizing lower taxes, hawkish defense and social conservatism.
They also introduced themselves as the adults of the party.
Ms Cheney, who was ousted from the House leadership in May for criticizing Mr Trump, responded to Mr McCarthy’s insult on Monday by calling his behavior “quite childish.”
“We have some very serious business here,” she said, before entering a committee room to prepare for Tuesday’s hearing. “We have important work to do.
Mr Kinzinger berated Republicans who have sought to downplay or deny the violence.
“For too long we have pretended that January 6 did not happen,” Kinzinger told reporters. “Kevin McCarthy is technically my Republican leader. And calling members of Congress by childish names like Donald Trump did, I guess that’s kinda normal.”
The Democrats took the opportunity to highlight the divisions within the Republican Party and try to restore the image of their investigation.
By giving Ms Cheney a speaking window during the hearing, Democrats were ensuring she had a powerful platform to voice concerns about the assault, giving bipartisan legitimacy to an investigation that the Republicans tried to dismiss it as a one-sided political attack.
House Republicans voted on May 12 to oust Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from their ranks for her refusal to remain silent about President Donald J. Trump’s election lies.
- Backlash to Impeachment vote: In January, Ms. Cheney released a scathing statement announcing that she would vote to impeach Mr. Trump. In the statement, which created a rift in her party, she said there has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States “than Mr. Trump’s incitement to a mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6. among the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him. A group of Mr. Trump’s most vocal allies in the House called on her to step down from her leadership position.
- Leadership challenge: In February, Ms. Cheney rose to the challenge of stripping her of her leadership position in a secret ballot vote. Even though a majority of House Republicans opposed Mr. Trump’s impeachment, most were unwilling to punish any of their key leaders for doing so – at least not on condition of anonymity .
- Censor: Ms. Cheney also faced opposition from the Wyoming Republican Party, which censored her and demanded her resignation. Ms. Cheney rejected these calls and urged Republicans to be “the party of truth.”
- New challenge: Ms Cheney continued her blunt condemnation of Mr Trump and his party’s role in spreading the false election claims that inspired the Jan.6 attack, prompting a further push to oust him from his leadership role. This time, the effort was supported by Representative Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the minority.
- Deletion: Ms Cheney called her expulsion a turning point for her party and said in an extraordinary speech that she would not sit still as Republicans abandon the rule of law. She embraced her downfall and offered herself as an uplifting tale in what she describes as a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. The impeachment took place by voice vote during a brief but noisy closed-door meeting in a Capitol Hill auditorium.
- Impact and analysis: What started as a battle for the future of the party after the violent end of the Trump presidency has collapsed into a one-sided stacking of the Trump team against critics like Ms. Cheney, a descendant of a Republican family. The episode, a remarkable withdrawal that reflected the party’s intolerance of dissent and its unwavering loyalty to the former president, called attention to the party’s internal divisions between more traditional and conservative factions over how to win back the Chamber in 2022.
- Successor: On May 14, House Republicans elected Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, a staunch supporter of Mr. Trump, as No. 3 Leader. Ms Stefanik pledged to maintain the focus “on unity” as conference chair, but she also drew criticism from some far-right Republicans who questioned her conservative good faith.
Mr McCarthy and his allies planned a counteroffensive, announcing a press conference 90 minutes before the hearing was held in which they were to criticize Ms Pelosi for choosing which Republicans could sit on the committee.
Republican leaders boycotted the investigation and said they would open theirs after Ms Pelosi refused to allow two of Mr Trump’s most staunch allies in the House – who had backed false allegations of voter fraud that have fueled the violation – to participate.
Mr McCarthy forced a vote on the House floor on Monday to condemn Ms Pelosi’s rejection of Representatives Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio, and force her to put them on the select committee. His resolution failed on a majority partisan vote, with only Ms Cheney and Mr Kinzinger joining the Democrats in opposition.
The couple’s participation in Tuesday’s hearing will create a stark contrast that captures the state of their party. As they challenge their leaders to hear police brutalized by Trump loyalists, a group of far-right Republicans planned to appear before the Justice Department to side with the rioters.
Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Paul Gosar of Arizona and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said they were hosting an event there on Tuesday afternoon to speak out against “Jan’s” treatment. 6 prisoners. They have presented those arrested as victims of an unfair system that has targeted and punished Mr. Trump’s supporters for their political beliefs.
Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger now find themselves in the unusual position of being defended by Democrats.
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and majority leader, called Mr. McCarthy’s insults “absurd.”
“These are people who come from conservative Republican districts who have represented Republican values,” Mr. Hoyer said Monday on MSNBC. “The difference is – and this is the key: they both believe in the truth.”
#Shunned #GOP #Cheney #Kinzinger #Seek #Answers #Jan #Riot