Republican leaders in Congress are divided over a Republican National Committee resolution suggesting the the attack inside the US Capitol on 6 January, 2021 as “legitimate political discourse.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says he believes violent rioters who stormed the halls of Congress belong “in jail” but has not rejected the characterisation of the assault inside the resolution, which also censured two House Republicans for their role in an investigation into the events leading up to and surrounding the riots.
“Everybody knows, anybody who broke in and caused damage, that was not called for” and “should be in jail,” he told CNN on 8 February.
He claimed that the resolution addressed the “six RNC members” subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the attack “who weren’t even here, who were in Florida that day,” he said.
The resolution, however, censures Republican US Reps Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who serve on the committee, for “participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse,” according to the resolution.
When asked by ABC News whether he believed there was “legitimate political discourse” on 6 January, he said: “Everyone knows there was. Anyone who broke inside.”
“His office later clarified he intended to say: Anyone who broke inside was not,” according to reporter Rachel Scott.
He also dismissed a question about the resolution and told her to make an appointment with his office as he sped through a hallway.
It is not clear which RNC members were subpoenaed by the committee, and the resolution does not condemn the violence in the halls of Congress that sought to upend the results of the 2020 presidential election.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has accused Reps Cheney and Kinzinger of aiding Democrats who are persecuting people who “had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.”
Several congressional Republicans have condemned the resolution, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called a “violent insurrection.”
“We all were here. We saw what happened,” he said on Tuesday. “It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next. That’s what it was.”
At issue is whether the RNC “should be sort of be singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority,” he added.
“That is not the job of the RNC,” he said.
Senator Mitt Romney said “nothing could be further from the truth than to consider the attack on the seat of democracy as legitimate political discourse.”
More than 225 people have been charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or Capitol staff during the riot, including more than 75 people charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer, according to the US Department of Justice.
At least 640 defendants have been charged with entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds, including 75 people who were charged with entering a restricted area with a dangerous or deadly weapon.