Rep. Mike Levin Tuesday called on candidates challenging him to condemn the Republican National Committee’s characterization of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol as “legitimate political discourse.”
Levin, D-Dana Point, told City News Service that he considered the statement last week censuring Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for serving on the Jan. 6 select committee as “disgraceful.”
“Having been here in the Capitol on that date, here in my office seeing the events unfold in horror, hearing the sounds outside, seeing so many of my colleagues and friends who were stuck in the House chamber or trying to make sure they were safe that day — that anybody would try to label that insurrection as legitimate political discourse as the Republican National Committee did in the censure of Cheney and Kinzinger it’s just disgraceful, just disgraceful,” Levin said.
“I think every Republican running for public office — whether they’re incumbents or running — they should answer a very simple question, which is whether they agree that a violent attack on our Democracy such as the one we experienced on Jan. 6, 2021, constitutes legitimate political discourse. I think the voters deserve nothing less than to see where their candidates stand on that,” he added.
In a statement to City News Service, Republican challenger Christopher Rodriguez said, “Mike Levin would rather lie about (former President Donald) Trump than explain why his Democrat Party is distributing taxpayer-funded crack pipes to drug addicts in the name of equity.”
Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, businessman Brian Maryott and conservative talk show host Anne Elizabeth did not immediately respond to messages.
The statement of censure last week has drawn criticism from some Republican leaders for saying that Cheney, R-Wyoming, and Kinzinger, R-Illinois, “are participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse, and they are both utilizing their past professed political affiliation to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, joined Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, in repudiating the statement.
McConnell said the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters was a `violent insurrection with the purpose of trying to prevent a peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election.”
Levin said he was concerned about the “disinformation” that is undermining the public’s trust in its elections.
“When people question the fundamental institutions of democracy and don’t believe democracy can work that’s when they turn to things other than democracy,” Levin said.
“I take all of this very seriously and I worry about the 2024 election. And, before that, I’ll worry about the 2022 election.”
Levin noted five police officers working to control the mob on Jan. 6 died, one the following day from two thromboembolic strokes and four by suicide.
“We’re talking about stun guns, bear spray, baseball bats and flag poles used to attack police officers,” Levin said. `Someone planted a pipe bomb and they’re saying that’s legitimate political discourse? Stun guns, baseball bats and pipe bombs are legitimate political discourse? Give me a break.”
He added, “My hope is that the Republicans running — that fundamentally they don’t believe that… But if they say nothing and continue to stay silent that speaks volumes about their belief in democracy or in something other than democracy and their willingness to put one person, the former president and his disinformation ahead of what we all know was the truth of what happened that day.”
The censure, he said, “is an attempt to buy into the Big Lie to score political points or to remain silent in a manner so as not to offend the defeated former president. We should see this for what it is and silence speaks volumes.”
Levin’s concern is magnified by the county’s turning to a new Registrar of Voters with Neal Kelley retiring next month. Bob Page, the San Bernardino County registrar of voters, will take over for Kelley.
“I have the utmost respect for Neal,” Levin said. “He does a great job. He’s fair, objective and really a tremendous administration of a complex process and I am obviously looking forward to getting to know the new registrar.”
San Diego County has a new registrar of voters as well in Cynthia Paes, Levin noted.
“This isn’t an easy time for any registrar of election officials, which is why we’re doing all we can in Congress to not only fight voter suppression but voter subversion as well,” Levin said.
Levin is backing a bill to close the loopholes former Chapman University law professor John Eastman advised Trump could use to have former Vice President Mike Pence reject slates of electors and not certify the election of President Joe Biden.
Eastman is now skirmishing with Jan. 6 select committee attorneys over which emails the investigators will get to see from his former Chapman University account regarding his legal work for Trump during the election.
“The Eastman memo spells out precisely what he hoped to achieve to undermine the spirit and letter of the Constitution with the electoral count and give the vice president the authority to undermine the results of a free and fair election,” Levin said.
“Fortunately, the former vice president understood that. I’m grateful that former Vice President Pence sought to consult with is own attorneys and got a multitude of advice.”
Levin said he hopes the Jan. 6 committee “will get all the relevant information it needs to recount exactly what happened so that we can take all of the appropriate steps as an institution to prevent it from happening again, and that means any and all necessary documents to understand those events.”