By Charles Passy
The former House speaker's comments have drawn stern reactions from both sides of the political aisle
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has seemingly opened up a Congressional can of worms, and deepened a rift within his own party.
Speaking with Fox News' Maria Bartiromo on Sunday, Gingrich, a prominent Republican and ally of former President Donald Trump, warned that members of the House commission looking into the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot could face jail time depending on the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections.
"I think when you have a Republican Congress, this is all going to come crashing down," Gingrich said. He added that "the wolves are going to find out that they're now sheep and they're the ones who are in fact, I think, [facing] a real risk of jail for the kinds of laws they're breaking."
The comments prompted many stern reactions from both sides of the political aisle and remained a trending topic on Twitter (TWTR) well into Monday.
Perhaps the most noteworthy response came from Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a key Republican who has been a frequent Trump critic and is serving on the Jan. 6 commission.
Pointing to Gingrich's threat of jail time, Cheney tweeted: "This is what it looks like when the rule of law unravels."
But others were quick to make similar remarks.
Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, a Democrat who is serving on the Jan. 6 commission, told CNN: "It's really unconscionable that ... the politicization has sunk to this level that a former speaker of the House could be threatening current members of Congress for carrying out their duty and performing under the law...I mean, that's just not something that happens in the United States."
Still, at least one Republican voiced support for Gingrich's remarks.
John Gibbs, a Trump-endorsed candidate for a Michigan Congressional seat, tweeted that Gingrich "is correct," and said that if he's elected he would "make sure those who abused their office to target political opponents via the (Jan. 6) committee, are held accountable."
New York Times investigative reporter Mike McIntire put Gingrich's comments into a broader context, noting that the former House speaker "is prone to dramatic comments about arresting people."
Indeed, Gingrich did suggest that Madonna should be jailed following her remarks at the 2017 Women's March on Washington. At the event, which drew thousands of anti-Trump protestors to the nation's capital, the singer said: "Yes I am outraged. Yes I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House, but I know that this won't change anything. We cannot fall into despair."
In a later Instagram post, Madonna clarified her comments, saying, "I am not a violent person...I spoke in metaphor."
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 24, 2022 14:00 ET (19:00 GMT)
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