In Brief

How the Capitol attack investigation is splitting the Republicans

Vote to censure two Republican representatives has revealed deep divisions within party

Does beating a police officer with a flagpole count as “legitimate political discourse”? What about smearing faeces on the walls of Congress? The Republican National Committee (RNC) suggested as much the other day, said Jonah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times, when it voted to censure the Republican representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

Their crime? Daring to serve on the House of Representatives committee investigating the 6 January attack on the US Capitol –aprobe that, according to the RNC resolution, is a “Democratled persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse”.

What nonsense. Thousands of people attended the pre-riot rally outside the US Capitol, and none of them are “being persecuted”. The RNC is a body of “boosters, has-beens and other party strivers” whose main role is to draft a party platform (or manifesto). But these officials now seem to “think their job is to whitewash an attempted coup and provide fodder for Democratic ads”.

The liberal media is certainly making the most of this story, said Mollie Hemingway in The Federalist, but it’s distorting the facts. Of course the RNC doesn’t think rioting is legitimate political discourse. It was condemning the fact that the 6 January probe isn’t just going after rioters; it has also subpoenaed people who weren’t rioting – who weren’t in Washington. What started as an inquiry has become an “inquisition”, with pro-Trump Republicans booted off it.

Well, now the RNC resolution had divided the party, too, said Aaron Blake in The Washington Post. Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate Republicans, denounced it, and called the Capitol attack a “violent insurrection”. It shows how the party has split between “a Jan. 6-revisionist, Trump-y base” and a party leadership that “believes this stuff is counterproductive, at best, and even just plain wrong”.

There’s a reason Trump’s allies want to discredit the probe, said Michael S. Schmidt and Luke Broadwater in The New York Times. It is taking an unprecedentedly aggressive approach, using more than a dozen former federal prosecutors who have deployed “tactics typically used against mobsters and terrorists” to uncover evidence from Trump’s camp. The committee’s aim is to find enough evidence to force the Justice Department to bring charges against those who organised the attack.

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