Editorial: Embracing the courage of Kinzinger and Cheney

Despite the noise House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is making in an attempt to drown out the work of the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 insurrection, we believe millions of Americans need the same answers that congressman Adam Kinzinger has laid out:

How did Jan. 6 happen? Why? Who spurred this effort? Was it organized? When did our government leaders know of the impending attacks and what were their responses? What level of preparation or warnings did our law enforcement have? Was there coordination between the rioters and members of Congress, or with staff?

And maybe a few more questions, too: How was the insurrection funded and organized? What was President Donald Trump doing during the attack? And ultimately, what does the U.S. need to do to protect against something like this from happening again?

Kinzinger, a six-term congressman from Channahon, is in McCarthy's crosshairs along with Wyoming's Liz Cheney. As the only two Republicans on the committee, they find themselves in an odd place - welcomed by Democrats and rejected by their own party.

Kinzinger is no "Pelosi Republican," as McCarthy has labeled him - he is no more likely to support Democratic ideals and big government programs than McCarthy himself. Kinzinger has been a reliable conservative voice and vote his entire career.

"We need answers and we need accountability, and the only way to get that is a full investigation and understanding of what happened to ensure nothing like this ever happens again," Kinzinger writes.

He warns that the investigation must look closely at the misinformation campaigns and their origins, the lies being perpetuated by leaders - including Trump - and what impact such false narratives had on the events leading up to Jan. 6.

"We need to be fearless about understanding the motivations of our fellow Americans, even if it makes us uncomfortable about the truth of who they are and the truth of who played what role in inspiring them (italics ours)."

Kinzinger and Cheney are gambling on two things: that most Americans want to know what happened and that their vision of a Reaganesque GOP can be salvaged. The reality is that their political careers could easily vaporize in 2022.

In the hours after the storming of the Capitol, plenty of shaken Republicans decried the mob violence and called for an investigation. McCarthy himself said that Trump "bears responsibility" for the attack.

In the weeks and months that followed, most of those people all backed off, Now, among the GOP, only Kinzinger and Cheney still want answers. We commend them for sticking to the same course, and we're glad they are there.

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