Prominent Republicans Criticize 'Pathetic' RNC Censure of Cheney, Kinzinger

Several prominent Republicans called out and criticized the Republican National Committee's (RNC) effort to censure GOP Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

A subcommittee at the RNC unanimously voted Thursday to advance a resolution to censure Cheney and Kinzinger for their criticism of former President Donald Trump and their involvement with the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack against the U.S. Capitol. If fully approved, the resolution "would immediately cease any and all support" for the two conservative Trump critics. It said their behavior has been "destructive" to the House of Representatives and the GOP.

Cheney and Kinzinger drew the ire of Trump and fellow Republicans after voting to impeach the former president following the attack by his supporters against the legislative branch of government. They later agreed to be the only two Republicans serving on the House select committee investigating the January 6 violence. The RNC's censure effort appears to enjoy wide support among Republicans, who have largely aligned themselves with Trump and downplayed the violence on January 6.

However, some prominent GOP members slammed the move.

"As the former chairman of the Republican party, I cannot express enough my condemnation of this pathetic act of cowardice taken by its current leadership to censure ⁦@Liz_Cheney⁩ and ⁦@RepKinzinger⁩. You are wrong. I stand with Liz and Adam," Michael Steele, who served as RNC chair from 2009 to 2011, tweeted late Thursday. He has been a consistent Trump critic since the former president ran for the office in 2016.

"The RNC is censuring Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger because they are trying to find out what happened on January 6th - HUH?" Senator Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, tweeted. Cassidy was among the seven GOP senators to vote to convict Trump after his second impeachment trial for inciting the attack against the Capitol.

Senator Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican who voted to convict Trump in his first and second impeachment trials, tweeted Friday morning, "Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol.

"Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost," Romney added.

"Orwell said, 'In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act,'" Sarah Longwell, a GOP strategist and former chair of the Log Cabin Republicans, tweeted. "The GOP is censuring Cheney and Kinzinger for one reason: They're telling the truth about Donald Trump and his attempt to overturn an American election. And the GOP wants to shut them up."

Pro-Trump Republican colleagues have previously dubbed Kinzinger and Cheney "spies of the Democrats." They have also urged the GOP House leadership to oust them from the legislative chamber's Republican Conference. Cheney previously served as the No. 3 House Republican but was removed from that position last May because of her repeated criticism of Trump and GOP lawmakers who continue to align themselves with the former president.

Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, has chosen not to seek reelection in the midterms this year. Cheney, who is from Wyoming, aims to maintain her congressional seat but is facing a Trump-endorsed GOP primary challenger. Both lawmakers pushed back against the RNC's censure effort on Thursday, asserting that they do not regret their opposition to Trump and his faction of the GOP.

Kinzinger and Cheney
Representative Liz Cheney, vice chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and Representative Adam Kinzinger listen during a committee meeting on December 1. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

"I'm a constitutional conservative and I do not recognize those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump. History will be their judge. I will never stop fighting for our constitutional republic. No matter what," Cheney said in a Thursday statement.

Kinzinger said he has "no regrets" regarding his "decision to uphold my oath of office and defend the Constitution" in a Thursday tweet. "I will continue to focus my efforts on standing for truth and working to fight the political matrix that's led us to where we find ourselves today."

Newsweek reached out to several other prominent GOP lawmakers for comment on the RNC censure effort but did not immediately receive responses.

This article was updated with a tweet from Senator Mitt Romney.