Jen Psaki claps back at GOP calling Capitol Insurrection “legitimate political discourse”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pauses for a moment as she addresses reporters on Thursday, April 15, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Photo: White House

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki clapped back at Republican attempts to paint the Capitol Insurrection as a nonviolent protest by calling it “legitimate political discourse.”

A reporter at the White House press briefing yesterday asked Psaki about the Republican National Convention’s (RNC) newly adopted resolution condemning Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for helping the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

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The resolution accused Cheney and Kinzinger of “participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse” and said “they are both utilizing their past professed political affiliation to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes.”

The reporter brought up Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’s (R-NY) words from yesterday when he said, “The ‘C’ in RNC doesn’t stand for committee, it stands for cult. It’s not the Republican National Committee. It’s the Republican national Cult.”

“Does the White House agree with that?” the reporter asked

“It’s clear to Americans that what happened on January 6th was not ‘legitimate political discourse,'” Psaki shot back. “Storming the Capitol in an attempt to halt the peaceful transition of power is not legitimate discourse, neither is attacking and injuring over 140 police officers, smashing windows, and defiling offices.”

“We certainly reject the notion that that was ‘legitimate political discourse,'” she continued, “as we think very — a large number of Americans would as well.”

The RNC’s decision to condemn Cheney and Kinzinger has been controversial within the GOP as well.

“It could not have been a more inappropriate message,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said about the resolution passed by his niece’s organization, according to a CNN report. “Anything that my party does that comes across as being stupid is not going to help us.”

He added that RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel is a “wonderful person and doing her very best.”

And he wasn’t the only one. Senate GOP Whip John Thune (R-SD) said that the resolution wasn’t “constructive” because it was just more in-fighting.

“It’s just not a constructive move, when you’re trying to win elections and take on Democrats, to take on Republicans,” he said. “It’s just not helpful.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reportedly called McDaniel over the weekend and admonished her for drawing more attention to the Capitol Insurrection just months before the midterm elections.

“I think all of us up here want to talk about forward and not backward,” he said. “We want to talk about why we should be in charge of the House and the Senate, and when you’re not talking about that, that takes you in the wrong direction.”

Some Republican senators defended the RNC, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who said that “tens of thousands of people engaged in peaceful free speech” who “the press and Democrats try to demonize falsely.” It’s not clear if he was specifically referring to the rioters.

The conflict shows the growing divide in the Republican party over the 2020 election, with many Republican officials still unwilling to admit that President Joe Biden won.

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