Cheney and Kinzinger fire back at Newt Gingrich’s call for them to be arrested if GOP takes House

The only two Republicans on 6 January select committee have been remorselessly targeted from the right since voting for Trump’s impeachment

Andrew Naughtie
Monday 24 January 2022 15:46
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Newt Gingrich predicts 6 January investigators will be jailed if GOP retakes Congress

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The two sitting Republicans on the 6 January select committee have hit back at former speaker Newt Gingrich for suggesting they could be prosecuted if and when the GOP retakes Congress.

Mr Gingrich made his remarks to Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo on Sunday morning, telling the famously pro-Trump host that under a Republican congressional regime, those who have pursued accountability for last year’s Capitol attack should expect rough treatment from the party’s leaders.

“All these people who have been so tough and so mean and so nasty,” he said, “are going to be delivered subpoenas for every document, every conversation, every tweet, every email because I think it’s clear that these are people who are literally running over the law pursuing innocent people, causing them to spend thousands and thousands of dollars in legal fees for no justification.”

There is no evidence that the 6 January committee is overstepping the law in its investigation, which has seen Trump aides refuse to abide by subpoenas for their testimony.

“It’s basically a lynch mob,” Mr Gingrich said of the committee, “and unfortunately, the attorney general of the United States has joined that lynch mob and is totally misusing the FBI.

“And I think when you have a Republican Congress, this is all going to come crashing down and the wolves are going to find out that they are now sheep. And they’re the ones that in fact, I think, will face a real risk of jail for the kind of laws they’re breaking.”

The reaction to the former speaker’s remarks was fast and furious, and both Ms Cheney and Mr Kinzinger joined in. Ms Cheney put it in the starkest terms in a tweet sharing a clip from the interview. “A former Speaker of the House is threatening jail time for members of Congress who are investigating the violent January 6 attack on our Capitol and our Constitution,” she wrote.

“This is what it looks like when the rule of law unravels.”

For his part, Mr Kinzinger simply replied with an unflattering GIF featuring comedian Chris Farley as a profusely sweating bus driver.

Ms Cheney and Mr Kinzinger have both become top targets of Republican scorn since they voted to impeach Donald Trump after the attack on the Capitol. Since then, the two have handled their opprobrium in different ways, Ms Cheney tending to take a more sombre tone while Mr Kinzinger engages his opponents in a sharper, more pugnacious style.

Ms Cheney is currently standing for re-election to her Wyoming seat in this year’s midterms, while Mr Kinzinger is retiring. He has set up a political campaign organisation, Country First, which will support candidates pushing back against the hardline pro-Trump tendency that currently dominates the Republican Party.

With the prospect of a GOP-run House of Representatives looming large, the 6 January committee is ramping up its agenda for the coming year.

Chair Bennie Thompson confirmed this weekend that the committee has already spoken to former Trump administration attorney general Bill Barr, who left the Department of Justice after the 2020 election insisting that there was no evidence of widespread fraud.

And member Jamie Raskin, who led the Democratic team during Mr Trump’s second impeachment, has predicted that the committee’s public sessions this year will be “like the Watergate hearings” – a public attempt to “tell the story of each dimension of this attack on American democracy”.

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