Republicans Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young reiterated Saturday that the events of Jan. 6 were unlawful, after national leaders of their party said a committee investigating the violent insurrection was leading a “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”
The comment came on Friday from the Republican National Committee as it voted to censure Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois for participating on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Murkowski, who was one of seven Republicans who voted last year to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection, again took a firm stance on the events of Jan. 6 in comments made in a social media post Saturday.
“What happened on January 6, 2021 was an effort to overturn a lawful election resulting in violence and destruction at the Capitol. We must not legitimize those actions,” Murkowski wrote. “As Americans we must acknowledge those tragic events, and we cannot allow a false narrative to be created. We cannot deny the truth — to suggest it was ‘legitimate political discourse’ is just wrong.”
Murkowski has faced censure from local Alaska Republicans motivated at least in part by her support of Trump’s impeachment.
In a post later Saturday, Young wrote he “was appalled at the violence and destruction at the Capitol on January 6th,” calling it “criminal, un-American, and cannot be considered legitimate protest.”
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel has denied that the “legitimate political discourse” wording in the censure was referring to the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters. She said it had to do with other actions taken by the House committee investigating the insurrection. But the resolution drew no such distinction.
The two Alaska members of Congress joined several prominent Republicans in rebuking the censure.
Alaska’s other U.S. senator, Republican Dan Sullivan, has remained silent so far. A spokesperson for Sullivan did not immediately provide comment from the senator after a request on Saturday.
Soon after Jan. 6, 2021, Sullivan said in a statement that the violence in the U.S. Capitol “will go down as one of the sadder and more dispiriting days in our country’s history.”
But in the months since then, Sullivan has voted against efforts to investigate whether the events in the Capitol were deliberately organized. Murkowski voted in favor of the investigation. Sullivan’s communications director said in an email last month that “it is important to point out that the vast majority of those who came to D.C. that day, including many Alaskans, did not commit violence or break the law.”
Hundreds of rioters forced their way into the Capitol that day, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Kelly Tshibaka, the Trump-backed Republican campaigning to unseat Murkowski in the U.S. Senate in November, voiced support for the RNC resolution in an emailed statement.
“We have a little bit of experience with this in Alaska, since our state party censured Lisa Murkowski and told her not to call herself a Republican anymore,” said Tshibaka, who is endorsed by the Alaska Republican Party. “Murkowski has hurt Alaska by siding with Democrats, much like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger have hurt their states and the country by siding with (Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House) Nancy Pelosi.”
Tshibaka said the language of the RNC resolution was being “dishonestly misrepresented.”
“It’s a clear reference to the tens of thousands of people who were peacefully expressing their 1st Amendment rights,” she wrote.
The RNC censure accuses Cheney and Kinzinger of “participating in a Democrat-led persecution.”