After the Republican National Committee censured the only two House GOP lawmakers on a panel investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the action illustrates the grip former President Donald Trump maintains on the party.
Christie said that RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is “carrying water for Donald Trump” after GOP insiders censured Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, two Republican lawmakers serving on the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.
Christie became the second former top Trump ally who refuted his false assertion that Mike Pence had the authority as vice president to reject the certification of Electoral College ballots from states where the Republicans alleged wide-scale fraud without proof.
Pence himself denied that was the case at a gathering of the Federalist Society last week.
“The actions the vice president took on January 6 spoke loudly, and I’m glad that he’s finally put words to it. I don’t know why it took him so long, but I’m glad that he did,” said Christie. “Let’s call this what it is: January 6 was a riot that was incited by Donald Trump in an effort to intimidate Mike Pence and the Congress” into overturning the 2020 election.
The censure resolution said the congressional investigative committee is persecuting “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse,” referring to the deadly attack on the Capitol by a mob of rioting Trump supporters.
The resolution also signaled that the RNC might prohibit a future GOP presidential nominee from participating in debates sanctioned by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a target of Trump’s ire during the 2020 presidential cycle.
“Restoring faith in our elections also means making sure our candidate can compete on a level playing field,” McDaniel said. “And that starts by withdrawing from the biased Commission on Presidential Debates.”
Cheney posted on Twitter video of Trump supporters clashing with police on Jan. 6, writing: “This is not ‘legitimate political discourse.’ “
During a Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Christie told host Martha Raddatz that GOP resolution was backed by a small number of Republicans who had largely been installed during former President Trump’s four-year tenure.
“This is just a majority of 168 people. And the RNC, most of those folks, were put into place over the course of the four years by Donald Trump,” said Christie. “And so, it’s certainly Ronna Romney McDaniel is carrying water for Donald Trump in this regard. And so, let’s not make it bigger than it is.”
The resolution that censured Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said the two lawmakers are participating in “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse” by sitting on the Jan. 6 panel, which was convened last year by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois “crossed a line,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in a statement that added to the original wording of the censure document. “They chose to join Nancy Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol. That’s why Republican National Committee members and myself overwhelmingly support this resolution.”
The resolution adds the RNC “shall immediately cease any and all support of” both lawmakers “as members of the Republican Party for their behavior which has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic, and is inconsistent with the position of the Conference.”
Christie also characterized the resolution as a mistake by the party because it fails to keep the focus on Biden administration and was not reflective of people who want to move on from the 2020 election.
“They say that part of the reason for the resolution is they want to keep the focus on Joe Biden and the failures of the Democratic administration,” said Christie. “Well, how did that work for you? All anybody is talking about this weekend is this resolution rather than talking about the failures of the Biden administration.”
The controversy has caused some prominent politicians to perform rhetorical contortions, such as Senator Marco Rubio saying January 6 rioters should be ‘prosecuted’ while simultaneously arguing that the investigative committee is a ‘partisan scam’ trying to ‘harass’ Republicans.
Both publicly and privately, some Republican Party members bristled over the former president’s fixation on the election he lost rather than the upcoming midterm races that will determine control of Congress.
While the party’s leadership has pledged to stay neutral, the RNC took positions that catered to Trump’s grievances and aggressively savaged the congressional investigation that is looking into his role in last year’s attack on the Capitol.