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‘It’s a sad day for my party.’ Moderate Republicans react to RNC defending Jan. 6, censuring Cheney and Kinzinger

Moderate Republicans blasted a vote by the Republican National Committee Friday to declare the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol “legitimate political discourse” as they voted to censure Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

At a meeting of party officials in Salt Lake City, members formally rebuked the two Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach former president Donald Trump for his role in the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection, signing onto a declaration that Cheney and Kinzinger’s participation in the House Jan. 6 committee amounts to persecuting “ordinary citizens” who were engaged in “legitimate political discourse.”

Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, tweeted a video shortly after the vote Friday depicting graphic and violent moments from the Jan. 6th insurrection. Cheney said curtly, in reference to the video, “This was January 6th. This is not ‘legitimate political discourse.’”

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Representative Adam Kinzinger released a statement ahead of the censure and prefaced it by saying “I am now even more committed to fighting conspiracies and lies.”

Cheney and Kinzinger are the two Republican members of a bipartisan House committee that is investigating the Capitol insurrection in an effort to hold the instigators accountable.

In a statement, a top political adviser to Governor Charlie Baker wrote that the Republican disagrees with his party’s vote, and commends “anyone who is willing to step forward and tell the truth.”

”He has been clear that the January 6th riot was a violent insurrection and a sad day for democracy,” the adviser, Jim Conroy, wrote.

A pro-Trump Massachusetts Republican also distanced himself from the national GOP, while taking a swipe at the state’s attorney general, Maura Healey, one of his Democratic opponents in the race to succeed Baker.

“Unlike Attorney General Healey, who saw riots, looting and murders in 2020 as how America could ‘grow,’ I don’t believe street violence or desecration of American symbols and institutions constitute a legitimate form of discourse,” Geoff Diehl, a former state lawmaker from Whitman who is running for governor with Trump’s endorsement, said in a statement.

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Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, centrist known for being outspoken against Trump, tweeted:

Senator Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who also has a reputation for irritating conservatives with his moderate stances, spoke out against the reprimand ahead of the vote on Friday, tweeting:

“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.”

In addition, Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, tweeted Thursday in seeming disbelief, “The RNC is censuring Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger because they are trying to find out what happened on January 6th - HUH?”

Representative Tom Rice, another House Republican who voted to impeach Trump last year, tweeted “Someone should definitely be held accountable for Jan. 6. The RNC chose Cheney and Kinzinger?” He then sarcastically finished the tweet with “That makes perfect sense.”

The censure mainly accused Cheney and Kinzinger of not aligning their actions with the best interests of the Republican Party. The document referenced a fear of Biden’s agenda and a perceived need to unite the Republican party.

“The Conference must not be sabotaged by Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger who have demonstrated, with actions and words, that they support Democrat efforts to destroy President Trump more than they support winning back a Republican majority in 2022,” the RNC wrote.

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Samantha J. Gross of the Globe staff and correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed to this report.


Annie Bennett can be reached at annie.bennett@globe.com.