The House Select Committee investigating the deadly failed insurrection of January 6 was formed after Republicans refused to work with Democrats establishing a bipartisan committee to investigate the attack. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formed the House Select Committee instead, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled all of his Republican nominations for the committee once the Speaker rejected two of his appointments, citing their proximity to the events they'd be investigating.
Though two Republicans—Vice Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois—remain on the committee, Republican lawmakers have repeatedly chastised it as a partisan attack designed to target former President Donald Trump, whose election lies incited the riots in the first place.
The Republican former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, even suggested there'd be jail time for the representatives on the committee in a recent interview with Fox News.
Newt Gingrich said this morning that people serving on the J6 Committee are going to go to jail if Republicans take over Congress after the next election. pic.twitter.com/OFhWdbEPdq
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) January 23, 2022
"You're gonna get a Republican majority in the House, a Republican majority in the Senate, and all those people who've been so tough and so mean and so nasty are gonna be delivered subpoenas for every document, every conversation, every tweet, every email, because I think it's clear that these are people who are literally just running over the law, pursuing innocent people, causing them to spend thousands and thousands of dollars in legal fees for no justification."
"It's basically a lynch mob, and unfortunately the Attorney General of the United States has joined that lynch mob and is totally misusing the FBI. And I think when you have a Republican Congress, this is all gonna come crashing down and the wolves are gonna find out that they're now sheep, and they're the ones who, I think, face a real risk of jail for the kind of laws that they're breaking."
It's unclear what laws Gingrich thinks they've broken. As recently as last week, the Supreme Court—including all three Trump-appointed Justices—upheld the committee's subpoenas for Trump administration documents surrounding the Capitol siege, despite Trump's efforts to block them with claims of executive privilege.
The committee's Vice Chair, Liz Cheney, responded to Gingrich's smears in a tweet saying his comments were the embodiment of "what it looks like when the rule of law unravels."
A former Speaker of the House is threatening jail time for members of Congress who are investigating the violent January 6 attack on our Capitol and our Constitution.
This is what it looks like when the rule of law unravels. https://t.co/vpQZjTg9em
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) January 23, 2022
Social media users agreed.
Thank you @Liz_Cheney for bringing attention to this. This is un American. Those pursuing truth, upholding the law, and defending Democracy must be defended. Gingrich just made clear why we must vote Democrat in 2022. https://t.co/VK3U7OFyu8
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) January 23, 2022
The Republican Party have lost their morals and their minds.
That is all.
SMH 🤦🏼♀️ https://t.co/kzPWl9gOTX
— Tamie Wilson for US Congress (OH-4) (@Tamie_Wilson_) January 23, 2022
Authoritarianism=governance as protection of criminals. Jailing investigators (politicians, judiciary, journalists) is key. Mussolini started the first right-wing autocracy to stop an investigation that was ruining him and the Fascist Party. @Liz_Cheney https://t.co/c6GAqulRDD https://t.co/gbPFmkvxFi
— Ruth Ben-Ghiat (@ruthbenghiat) January 24, 2022
One runs out of ways to say we're sliding into a ditch America. https://t.co/2ssSQ1f2DN
— Mona Charen (@monacharen) January 23, 2022
She wasn't the only one to blast Gingrich for his comments.
I try not to be over the top about these things, but leading figures in conservatism do keep saying they want to establish an authoritarian regime. https://t.co/IUDDMcSQCz
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 23, 2022
Fitting that the man who pioneered the bludgeoning of congress as a functioning part of democracy, even before the equally diabolical Mitch McConnell hit his stride, has now gone full banana republic. Sadly, however, his slimy political descendants would try this in real life. https://t.co/9YNJ0C2Vyo
— Joy-Ann (Pro-Democracy) Reid 😷 (@JoyAnnReid) January 24, 2022
Think about this. Respected party elder Newt Gingrich says that when Republicans regain Congress, they will weaponize oversight to go after their Democratic colleagues and get them thrown in jail.
That's what a fascist party does.
Get it? https://t.co/JXm86Aq5fF
— Dan Froomkin/PressWatchers.org (@froomkin) January 23, 2022
For everyone named Trump complaining about investigations as political vendettas, please watch this. In the Trumps case, unlike this one, there is evidence of crimes. But regardless, this is absurd and must be called out and shut down. https://t.co/ppID5vlW7u
— Daniel Goldman (@danielsgoldman) January 23, 2022
Right now, Republicans are the single greatest threat to this democracy. And there is a really decent chance they will take back Congress this year. If that reality doesn’t get you off your ass to vote this year, then you don’t deserve this democracy. https://t.co/5uMkl5nG7h
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) January 23, 2022
For her part, Cheney has already faced political retribution. Though she voted with Trump almost 93 percent of the time, her critiques of Trump's role in an attack on Congress have rendered her persona non grata within the GOP. She lost her position as Conference Chair for House Republicans and has been censured by her home state's Republican party.