Former RNC chair McDaniel calls January 6 Capitol attack ‘unacceptable’ after years of deflection

Former Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Sunday called the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol “unacceptable” after years of deflecting on the issue.

McDaniel, who is joining NBC News as a political analyst after exiting the RNC earlier this month, told the outlet that the Capitol riot “doesn’t represent our country. It certainly does not represent my party.”

“We should not be attacking the Capitol; we should not be having violence,” she added. Asked why she didn’t offer such condemnation as RNC chairwoman, McDaniel responded, “When you’re the RNC chair, you kind of take one for the whole team. Right now, I get to be a little bit more myself.”

McDaniel’s RNC exit comes amid a period of rising tensions between Donald Trump, the GOP presidential front-runner, and the RNC. Trump and his team had been disappointed with the RNC’s finances, with the committee experiencing one of its most anemic years of fundraising in the last decade.

The former president had also believed that the RNC under McDaniel’s leadership should have done more to fight for his candidacy in the 2020 election, including retaining better lawyers to push the former president’s false claims of rampant voter fraud.

Trump, McDaniel said Sunday, “absolutely wanted me to move aside and wanted Michael Whatley and Lara Trump to come in.”

McDaniel said that while her role required her to remain neutral regarding GOP candidates, tensions rose with the Trump campaign when the former president decided to forgo this cycle’s primary debates.

“We had debates, and there was tension and a little friction that started during that process. It was well played out in the media,” McDaniel said. “And I knew at that point, when I was doing that role, and we were going to have debates, that when the nominee came forward, and it was likely to be President Trump, that they were going to switch and that’s his right as nominee.”

News of McDaniel’s hiring at NBC has drawn sharp backlash. She has a long history of assailing the news media as “fake” and her promotion of false claims around the 2020 elections.

As RNC chair, she was involved in a phone call in 2020 to pressure Michigan county officials not to certify the vote from the Detroit area, where Joe Biden had a commanding lead. McDaniel told the officials, regarding the certification: “Do not sign it. … We will get you attorneys.”

The Michigan Department of State’s office condemned her claims of supposed voter fraud in the wake of the election, stating they had “no merit.” The state’s “elections were conducted fairly, effectively and transparently and are an accurate reflection of the will of Michigan voters,” it said in a detailed fact check posted online.

McDaniel acknowledged Sunday that Biden won the 2020 election “fair and square” even as she voiced concern over “issues” with the vote. “I believe that both can be true,” she said.

Asked about the criticism of her RNC tenure, and the blame some have placed on her for a slate of Republican losses, McDaniel said, “I push back on that very hard.”

“Under my time as chair, we’ve had more women in Congress ever than in the history of our party … we’ve had more minority growth in our party, and that didn’t just happen.”

CNN’s Oliver Darcy, Kaitlan Collins, Daniel Strauss, Michelle Shen and Avery Lotz contributed to this report.

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