House Republicans are reportedly torn in the aftermath of the Capitol Hill riots earlier this week, as leaders and members are conflicted on the issue and the future of the party.
The riots in Washington D.C. were shocking and the different parties had different thoughts about them.
The Democratic message was unified: the riots were reckless, divisive, and borderline domestic terrorism. Those leading the charge should be prosecuted, they said. Trump was to blame for inciting them and, he too, should face justice, they added.
Calls for impeachment and removal from office — even with just 12 days remaining in his term — were renewed.
The Republican message, however, was lacked the same unity.
As Politico reports, Republican members of Congress are criticizing their leaders, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, and are “disappointed” in their lack of leadership.
From the report:
As lawmakers have started to fully digest the deadly turn of events that unfolded Wednesday, a cohort of House Republicans have begun to direct their outrage and frustration at their own leaders, according to interviews with nearly two dozen GOP members and aides. Privately, they say McCarthy and Scalise failed to show leadership in a time of crisis and should have done more to call out Trump for his role in the riots that left five people dead.
Of the top three GOP leaders in the House, only Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney has directly condemned Trump’s dangerous rhetoric and behavior. Cheney also vocally opposed the effort to object to the election results when Congress certified them on Jan. 6.
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McCarthy and Scalise — who survived an assassination attempt at a GOP baseball practice in 2017 — were quick to strongly condemn the outbursts of violence on Wednesday, though they steered clear of criticizing Trump. And as the rioters were breaching the Capitol, McCarthy said on ABC News that he had “begged” Trump to address the nation instead of just simply putting out a tweet.
Scalise, meanwhile, acknowledged Friday night on Fox News that Trump’s words “didn’t help and in fact caused a lot of real division.” He also said the president’s initial response “should have been an unequivocal, just complete, unequivocal calling out of what was going on at the time when people were storming the Capitol.”
The leaders are not being asked to step down and just recently won unanimous approval to continue leading their party, but there is certainly some intra-party frustration.
“There’s a little bit of anger, but a lot of disappointment,” one unidentified Republican member told Politico.
During an interview on Friday, Republican Congressman Gary Palmer described the country as “on a bad path.”
“Every member of Congress must understand what we say matters — what we say and how we say it matters,” he added.
McCarthy ultimately did recognize the division and “hurt” and said his focus was uniting the party and country under the new Biden administration.
“Our country is not just divided. We are deeply hurt,” he said.
His priority going forward is to “deliver a better America for all.”
“The task ahead for the next Congress and incoming Biden Administration couldn’t be more momentous. But to deliver a better America for all, partisans of all stripes first must unite as Americans and show our country that a peaceful transition of power has occurred,” he said.
Off of Capitol Hill, the Republican message was united.
Axios reports members of the Republican National Committee were unified against the violence and said Trump did not bear any responsibility for it.
President Trump also released a statement condemning the violence, distancing himself from those who invaded the Capitol Building, and urged the country move forward “ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”
“The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy,” he said via Axios. “To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay.”
“My campaign vigorously pursued every legal avenue to contest the election results. My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote. In so doing, I was fighting to defend American democracy,” he continued. “I continue to strongly believe that we must reform our election laws to verify the identity and eligibility of all voters and ensure faith and confidence in all future elections.”
He concluded: “Now Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”