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Pelosi rips McCarthy for walking away, declining to comment on RNC censure resolution

Republicans "seem to have reached rock bottom with their statement that what happened on Jan. 6 was normal political discourse," Pelosi said.
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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Wednesday that it was "disturbing" to see video of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., walking away from the media when he was asked about the Republican National Committee's resolution censuring GOP Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

Pelosi said at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill that the Republican Party has been "hijacked" and has advised its members to take back their party from "this cult."

"It's disturbing to see that the Republican leader of the House ran — actually, literally refused to condemn that resolution of legitimate political [discourse] — literally ran away from the press when he was asked about his position," Pelosi said.

A video clip shared Wednesday on Twitter by an ABC News reporter showed her trying to ask McCarthy about the resolution as he quickly walked away and told her to make an appointment with his office.

"The Republicans seem to be having a limbo contest with themselves to see how low they can go," Pelosi said. "They seem to have reached rock bottom with their statement that what happened on Jan. 6 was normal political discourse — legitimate, legitimate political discourse."

Pelosi added, "Republicans can run, but they cannot hide from what happened on Jan. 6."

NBC News' Garrett Haake pressed McCarthy about the RNC's censure measure Wednesday.

"I think anybody, we all know this, who entered this building, that rioted, is not legitimate political discourse," he said. "But I don't think that's what the RNC was talking about when you talk to them."

McCarthy suggested that "legitimate discourse" referred to alternative electors whom the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has subpoenaed, even though he said they were in Florida during the riot.

Asked whether he agreed with the decision to censure Cheney, of Wyoming, and Kinzinger, of Illinois, the lone Republican lawmakers on the Jan. 6 panel, McCarthy said: "I think there’s a reason why Adam is not running again. I think there’s a reason why at the end of the day, Liz would have a hard time winning here if she runs, and I don’t think she runs."

In response to McCarthy's suggestion that Cheney isn't planning to run for re-election, her spokesman Jeremy Adler said: "As everyone knows, truth has never been his strong suit."

While Kinzinger has said he's retiring from Congress, Cheney is, in fact, running for re-election this year and has outraised her chief primary opponent so far in the 2022 cycle. The Wyoming primary is in August.

McCarthy's remarks come a day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that Jan. 6 was a "violent insurrection" and that he opposed the censure.

“We all were here. We saw what happened," McConnell said at his weekly news conference. "It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next. That’s what it was."

McCarthy was asked later Wednesday by NBC News whether he agrees with McConnell that Jan. 6 was a violent insurrection.

"Yeah, I agree," McCarthy said. "Anyone who broke into this building, I mean, no one would disagree with that. But what I think, what I think you’re interpreting, is something much different. The RNC was not referring to that."

Former President Donald Trump weighed in Wednesday evening, attacking both Cheney and Kinzinger, as well as McConnell.

"For the Old Crow Mitch McConnell to say that the RNC should not censure walking Democrat sound bites, Liz Cheney and Cryin’ Adam Kinzinger, is so against what Republicans are about," Trump said in a statement, adding that "the censure of Cheney and Kinzinger is a good and very appropriate thing to do as it pertains to our great Republican Party!"