The only two Republicans on the Jan. 6 Committee have responded to calls made by a member of their own party — Newt Gingrich — suggesting that they, and the rest of the panel, should be jailed for the committee’s investigative work.
At this point, it’s par for the course for Gingrich to traffic in Trumpian outrage, as Josh Marshall outlined here. But it’s also an illustration of the Republican Party’s ongoing divide and the ways in which the party as a whole has responded to the bombastic individual who commandeered it for his own ends.
To recap, without naming names, Gingrich told Fox News over the weekend that members of the Jan. 6 Select Committee investigating the insurrection could be jailed if Republicans win back the House this fall. It was a threat from the longtime Republican and former House Speaker-turned-Trump-boosting-boy, who is currently serving as an adviser to House GOP leadership ahead of the midterms.
“I think when you have a Republican Congress, this is all going to come crashing down,” Gingrich told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo Sunday. “And the wolves are going to find out that they’re now sheep and they’re the ones who are in fact, I think, face a real risk of jail for the kinds of laws they’re breaking.”
Both Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) tweeted out their own style of rebut. Cheney suggested that “this is what it looks like when the rule of law unravels.” Kinzinger tweeted a gif.
While Gingrich’s remarks are, of course, just another rung in his downward spiral into Trumpism, they also can’t be taken lightly due to his proximity to GOP leadership. Axios reported last month a list of investigations House leadership claimed it would carry out if they retake the House in 2022. Those include all the top Republican grievances of the last year or so, on issues like the origins of COVID, the border, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the DOJ’s new system for tracking threats against schools, and, most unsurprisingly, bizarre claims that the NSA is spying on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
Retaliation against lawmakers probing the Jan. 6 insurrection was not on that list. But Gingrich has been working as an adviser to Republican leadership for some time, most recently repurposing parts of his 1994-era “Contract with America” to help the party establish policy platforms for the midterms. Gingrich has leadership’s ear. This may not be the last we hear of plans to try to jail insurrection investigators.
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