Republicans frustrated with RNC decision to reopen January 6 party before midterm

In particular, some Republicans have directly aimed criticism at Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the RNC.

“I think Republicans should stop shooting Republicans, including the president,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a member of the GOP leadership, told CNN.

When asked if McDaniel should step down, Senate GOP whip John Thune of South Dakota said, “Oh, I don’t know. Ultimately it will be at the RNC. But this just isn’t a constructive decision, when you’re trying to win the election and go against the Democrats, to go against the Republicans. It’s just not helpful.”

Privately, Republicans began reaching out to McDaniel — including her uncle, GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who exchanged text messages with her over the weekend. While Romney said McDaniel is a “wonderful person and does his best,” he said he made it clear to him how he views the issue.

“It couldn’t have been a more inappropriate message,” Romney said before adding, “Anything my party does that comes across as stupid isn’t going to help us.”

Republicans want to make the midterm elections a referendum on Biden, the economy, crime and pandemic school closures — not a rehash of Jan. 6, 2021. But with Trump still obsessed with his electoral defeat and determined to punish his perceived enemies in the party, Republicans continue to find themselves sucked into the former 2020 president’s conspiracies and the lies of a stolen election. And it’s especially frustrating for Republicans at a time when they’re seeing Biden’s poll numbers plummeting and have historical trends on their side.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said he spoke with McDaniel about the controversy, who told him she “condemns the violence” but maintained they criticized the panel for targeting people who had not committed violence. daytime.

“I think we all want to talk about the front here and not the back,” Graham said. “We want to talk about why we should be in charge of the House and the Senate, and when you don’t talk about it, it takes you in the wrong direction.”

Seeking to deter the outcry, the RNC sent talking points to its allies saying the committee “denounces all acts of political violence and lawlessness”, arguing that the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 “greatly exceeded its stated purpose” to investigate the attack.

An RNC spokeswoman also defended the censorship effort Monday and argued the GOP was united in its mission to win back the House and Senate this fall.

“Republicans in both houses of Congress and across the country remain united in our efforts to hold Democrats and Biden accountable for their failure to retake the House and Senate in November,” the spokeswoman said.

And the party committee received reinforcements on Monday.

“There is no doubt that there were tens of thousands of people committed to peaceful free speech that the press and Democrats are trying to falsely demonize,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican from Texas who voted to nullify the electoral votes of two states in the hours that followed. the attack.

Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican who has also sought to dismiss Biden’s two-state victories, said of the Jan. 6 committee: “I think it’s illegitimate. … They don’t follow their own rules. . And I think, frankly, it’s, it’s reminiscent of the House Committee on Un-American Affairs.”

And Senator Rick Scott, who chairs the Republican National Senate Committee and who voted to decertify Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania, did not say if he disagreed with the RNC’s decision, saying only that he had condemned the violence of January 6.

“If that’s what they mean,” the Florida Republican said when asked if he disagreed with the RNC’s resolution. “I am clear about what my belief has been.”

The select committee cast a wide net to probe all the events leading up to the attack – and provoked a strong reaction from Trump as it probed his actions and those around him.

On Monday, a number of Republicans declined to take a position on the issue, including the Senses. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Roger Marshall of Kansas and Deb Fischer of Nebraska, who have indicated they would rather engage on political issues more important to voters at home, while Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said that he hadn’t looked at it yet.

“I didn’t pay attention to that,” said Johnson, who faces competitive re-election this year.

Still, even a number of Trump allies were surprised by the RNC’s decision.

“I think they’re out of their league, quite honestly,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, a Republican from North Dakota. “I mean the beauty of the People’s House is that it’s the People’s House. Each one of them has a two-year term and about the same number of voters, and all discipline belongs for the mostly to the people who elect them.”

Members of their party leadership agreed.

“I think the RNC should be focused on electing Republicans,” said Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

“I think we have a lot of issues that we should focus on instead of censuring two members of Congress because they have a different opinion,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, about of the RNC’s resolve as she walked. in the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell said he would address the issue on Tuesday.

While most Republicans, especially those in leadership, are eager to turn the page on Jan. 6, there seems to be more appetite in the House GOP conference to reinvigorate the murderous attack on the Capitol. Some of Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill have floated the idea of ​​launching investigations into insurgency conspiracy theories and creating their own select committee to rewrite the Jan. 6 narrative if Republicans regain the House.

“We need to capture the Jan. 6 committee and convert it to our purposes: to investigate the extent to which federal involvement might have animated the violence,” Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz told CNN, referring to the unfounded theory that the FBI was involved in the riots.

But GOP leaders, who have so far resisted calls inside the conference to punish Cheney and Kinzinger, say the party must keep its energy directed toward defeating the Democrats at this time.

“I’ve been focused on what we need to do to get the House back,” Minority Whip Steve Scalise told CNN when asked about the RNC’s no-confidence resolution. “We need to flip many more seats currently held by Democrats, replacing them with Republicans, so we can fire (Speaker Nancy) Pelosi.”

Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, head of the House GOP campaign arm, added, “We’re focused on getting a majority next fall.”

CNN’s Morgan Rimmer, Ted Barrett and Lauren Fox contributed to this report.

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