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RNC's censure of Cheney and Kinzinger is clearly pro-Jan. 6

The Republican National Committee believes the Capitol rioters were "ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse."

The Republican National Committee on Friday approved an astounding resolution that all but expressly condoned the attack on the U.S. Capitol last year. In doing so, it’s given up any pretense that the party stands in opposition to the violence that then-President Donald Trump inspired.

The resolution in question is focused specifically on censuring Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming for their participation in the House Jan. 6 committee’s work. The fact that the censure was happening at all was the focus of reporting leading up to Friday’s RNC vote, given that the resolution was originally meant to expel the two from the party entirely.

But in reading the resolution’s language laying out Cheney's and Kinzinger’s supposed crimes against the party, one clause jumps out:

WHEREAS , Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger are participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse, and they are both utilizing their past professed political affiliation to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes…

That phrase — “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse” — is chilling to read for anyone who understands what happened Jan. 6 last year. It goes beyond just defending Trump or faulting the apostates in question with defying party gospel. It sanctions and indeed sanctifies the actions of the rioters and insurrectionists who wanted to see the results of a legitimate election overturned.

It’s not a shock that this rhetoric exists; we’ve seen it for months now. Whether it’s involved calling the rioters who smashed their way into the building “tourists” or calling those charged “political prisoners” and the conditions they have faced in jail “inhumane,” members of the right-wing have consistently downplayed the severity of the attack. In turn, that has involved finding an alternate reason for the prosecutions and investigations — namely, that this is yet another, as they frame it, Democratic attack against Trump’s political fortunes.

That fiction has been hypocritical when coming from the Republican members of Congress who feared for their lives Jan. 6. It’s been cynical when spouted by Fox News hosts and other conservative media figures who warned Trump about the danger of the mob he was fomenting. But now it’s been endorsed directly by the party itself. The Republican Party is on the record as being pro-Jan. 6.

The Republican Party is on the record as being pro-Jan. 6.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel used a similar phrase when talking to reporters about the censure Thursday. MSNBC’s Steve Benen wondered ahead of Friday’s vote if she was referring to the fake electors who cast invalid Electoral College votes last year. Several of them, including an elderly friend of McDaniel’s, were recently subpoenaed to testify before the Jan. 6 committee.

That may be the case for McDaniel specifically. But the language of the RNC’s resolution lacks any such context or clarity. Instead, it is the venture that Trump embarked on after the 2020 election as a whole that is dismissed as par for the course in politics — from the Trump campaign’s efforts to cause confusion during the electoral count to the attacks on Capitol police officers on the day of the assault. There is no hedging to be found in its defense of “ordinary citizens.”

There’s no concern to be discerned from this resolution for Trump’s recent floating of the idea of pardons for participants in the Jan. 6 attack. Nor the clear indications that Trump is willing to rally these “ordinary citizens” into engaging in more political violence on his own behalf. As The New York Times reported, the resolution was adopted “without discussion and almost without dissent.”

No matter what McDaniel says as far as her own justification, these are the words as they were written and approved by the Republican Party. There’s nothing to conclude except that should the events of Jan. 6 repeat themselves, there is no “political discourse” that the GOP will not stand behind and endorse.