Sen. Mitt Romney Texted with His Niece, the RNC Chair, About GOP Censure of Jan. 6 Investigators

The Utah Republican said the party's resolution calling the pro-Trump Capitol rioting "legitimate political discourse" was "inappropriate"

Ronna McDaniel, Mitt Romney
Photo: Nick Hagen for The Washington Post via Getty; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

Sen. Mitt Romney and his niece, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, have "exchanged some texts" about the party's censure of two members who are part of a Congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Utah senator said this week.

Republican Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois were called out in a resolution passed last week at an RNC conference in Utah for participating in the investigation of Jan. 6.

Republicans determined their efforts to uncover who is responsible in and how the deadly attack unfolded amount to "persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse."

Romney, 74, sharply disagreed.

"It could not have been a more inappropriate message," he told reporters on Monday of the resolution. He added that he "expressed my point of view" in text messages to McDaniel.

Romney — a vocal member of the GOP's anti-Trump minority — said he disagreed with the measure for a couple reasons.

"One, to sanction two people of character as they did. But number two, to suggest that a violent attack on the seat of democracy is legitimate political discourse is so far from accurate as to shock and make people wonder what we're thinking," Romney told reporters.

He also tweeted about the vote to denounce his fellow Republican lawmakers.

"Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol. Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost," he wrote on Twitter Friday.

After members of both parties expressed disapproval for the resolution, McDaniel attempted to clarify that the reference to "legitimate political discourse" had "nothing to do with violence at the Capitol," she said in a statement.

Romney, a former governor of Utah who ran for president as a Republican in 2012, was one of seven members of the GOP who voted to convict President Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial that followed the Jan. 6 attack. (He previously met with Trump about a role in Trump's administration.)

Despite their differences of opinion when it comes to supporting the former president and the resolution to censure Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger, Romney said he believes McDaniel is "terrific."

"I think she's a wonderful person and doing her very best," he said of his niece.

It's not the first time Romney has distanced himself from one of McDaniel's positions.

Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney. Rick Bowmer/AP/Shutterstock

After McDaniel sent a letter to the Committee on Presidential Debates indicating the RNC could "prohibit future Republican nominees from participating in CPD-sponsored debates," Romney said taking such drastic measures "would be nuts."

"The American people want to see candidates for president debating issues of consequence to them, and it provides a service to the country and to the people, to hear the prospective candidates of the two major parties duke it out," he said at the time.

At the winter conference, the RNC advanced the rule change McDaniel mentioned in January. The ban on presidential nominees participating in debates sponsored by the Commission will likely get a vote at the RNC's summer meeting, The Los Angeles Times reported.

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