“The purpose of that commission is to try to embarrass and smear and harass as many Republicans as they can get their hands on,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said of the select committee investigating Jan. 6. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday said those who committed crimes on Jan. 6 should be “prosecuted” but slammed the House committee’s investigation as “a partisan scam” — an attempt from the Florida Republican to walk the tightrope as the GOP remains divided on how to speak about the Capitol attack.
Last week, Republicans were asked to pick a side not once, but twice. From the Republican National Committee voting to censure Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) for their participation on the committee investigating Jan. 6 to former Vice President Mike Pence rebuking the former president in a speech, journalists have asked members of the party to weigh in.
Rubio, when asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” if former President Donald Trump was wrong to say his vice president could have overturned the election results, Rubio spun it forward.
“I just don’t think a vice president has that power because if the vice president has that power, Donald Trump would defeat Joe Biden in four years or two years, and then Kamala Harris can decide ... to overturn the election. I don’t want to wind up there,” Rubio said.
Then when asked by host Margaret Brennan if the RNC speaks for him when it said the House committee’s “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse,” Rubio again walked the line, saying anyone who entered the Capitol and committed acts of violence should be prosecuted.
“But the Jan. 6 commission is not the place to do this. That’s what prosecutors are supposed to do,” he said. “This commission is a partisan scam. The purpose of that commission is to try to embarrass and smear and harass as many Republicans as they can get their hands on.”
Rubio wasn’t the only one to dance around questions about Pence and the RNC on Sunday.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said he voted to certify the election and praised both Pence and Trump, adding that he hopes “they can work out their differences.” When asked about the RNC censure of Cheney on “Fox News Sunday,” he noted that she’s already been censured in their state and that he disagrees with her on a number of issues from the select committee to the impeachment of the former president.
“Liz is going to have to travel the state and make her case to the voters of Wyoming if she intends to get reelected,” Barrasso said.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) — who has defended Cheney before — spoke along similar lines as Rubio, when asked if he stands by the RNC’s statement and actions. On ABC’s “This Week,” he said he condemns violence and believes criminal actors should be prosecuted but said the problem with the committee is that many Republicans see it as a means for “weaponizing” Jan. 6.
He brushed off the repeated questioning about the RNC’s statement by pitching party unity.
“And, you know, why are we talking about this resolution?” McCaul said. “Why aren’t Republicans talking about the failures of the Biden administration? In Afghanistan, you know, with this Ukraine/Russia thing, with China, you know, all over the world, the border’s wide open.”