In an op-ed for Townhall.com, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tries to makes lemonade out of lemons.
Of her committee’s decision to censure GOP Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for serving on the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, McDaniel writes:
“The awful events of that day do not justify Cheney or Kinzinger enabling a partisan committee whose real purpose seems to be helping Democrats’ electoral prospects at the cost of potentially ruining innocent people’s lives. From the outset, the committee has lacked the legitimacy of past independent, bipartisan efforts investigating events of national importance.”
Excuse me, what?
Let’s take a stroll back through how we got to this moment, shall we?
Back in May 2021, Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, and John Katko, a Republican from New York, cut a deal to form an independent commission to conduct an investigation into what happened on January 6 and the days leading up to it. (The two lawmakers were the chairman and ranking member, respectively, on the House Homeland Security Committee.) The January 6 commission was envisioned as similar to the independent 9/11 Commission, which produced a lengthy – and authoritative – history of that day and how we got to it.
“The commission proposed by Thompson and Katko would include a 10-member panel, with half appointed by Democratic congressional leaders, including the chair, and half by Republicans, including the vice chair. The panel will have the power to issue subpoenas if they are signed off by both the chair and vice chair, according to a summary released by the committee.”
Less than a week later, the full House approved the commission, with 35 (!) Republicans joining 217 Democrats in voting for it. It looked to be something exceedingly rare in Washington: A bipartisan victory.
Because when the legislation landed in the Senate, it hit with a thud.
“After careful consideration, I’ve made the decision to oppose the House Democrats’ slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of January 6,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “As everybody surely knows, I repeatedly made my views about the events of January 6 very clear. I spoke clearly and left no doubt about my conclusions.” (McConnell blamed Donald Trump for the riot, but ultimately voted to acquit the former President of impeachment charges for his role on January 6.)
With McConnell and Trump – the dueling power centers of the Republican Party – lined up against the legislation, it failed and with it the hope of an independent bipartisan commission to study January 6.
In the ensuing months, Republicans like McDaniel have tried to rewrite history, arguing that the whole process was partisan from the jump and was/is solely aimed at helping Democrats in the coming midterm elections.
But that simply isn’t true! The ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee helped make a bipartisan deal! “An independent, bipartisan commission will remove politicization of the conversation and focus solely on the facts and circumstances surrounding the security breach at the Capitol as well as other instances of violence relevant to such a review,” Katko said at the time.
And not just that! Almost three dozen House Republicans voted for the proposal – more than three times the number who voted to impeach Trump for his role on January 6. This wasn’t just the Cheneys and Kinzingers of the world. There was a significant chunk of Republicans who thought the creation of the commission was important enough that they were willing to buck Trump.
McDaniel is, as they say, entitled to her own opinion but not her own facts. And the facts make clear that a window existed for an independent commission to be established to study January 6. McConnell just slammed that window shut.