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Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger criticize fellow Republicans after Buffalo mass shooting

Eric Holder on hate crimes and prevention
Former Attorney General Eric Holder talks hate crimes, conspiracy theories and prevention 03:55

Republican Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are criticizing members of their own party in the wake of what officials are investigating as a racially-motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. The alleged shooter, a white man, reportedly posted a conspiracy theory-filled white supremacist "manifesto" online prior to the attack and said that he chose the location because it has a high Black population.

The online posting referenced the so-called "Great Replacement" theory, focused on the fear of nonwhite people "replacing" America's white population and diminishing their influence.

Cheney, of Wyoming, blamed her party's leaders in the House for enabling "white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism." 

"History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse," Cheney wrote in a tweet. "@GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them."

This was not the first time a mass shooting has been perpetrated by a gunman apparently acting on the "Great Replacement" and related white supremacist beliefs. Such motivations were also found in the mass shootings at a church in Charleston in 2015, a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, an El Paso Walmart in 2019, and other deadly incidents. 

The Anti-Defamation League has documented the spread of similar rhetoric in recent years at events like the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Though mainstream figures have denounced  violence, the ADL and others have documented the use of language echoing the "Great Replacement" theory from figures like former Iowa GOP Congressman Steve King and Fox News' Tucker Carlson.

Kinzinger called out several fellow Republicans by name in a tweet, alleging they have helped spread such dangerous beliefs.

"Here is my replacement theory: we need to replace [Rep. Elise Stefanik]. [Rep. Kevin McCarthy], [Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene], and [Rep. Madison Cawthorn], and a number of others," he tweeted, tagging his colleagues' Twitter accounts.

"The replacement theory they are pushing/tolerating is getting people killed," Kinzinger wrote. 

In another tweet, he accused Stefanik of running ads "pushing" the replacement theory. Several GOP campaigns have used language that echoes the theory in raising fears of migrants crossing the southern border. 

Stefanik herself tweeted in the wake of the shooting: "Our nation is heartbroken about the tragic news of horrific loss of life in Buffalo. We are mourning for the entire community & loved ones. During #NationalPoliceWeek, we must thank & honor our law enforcement & first responders who heroically face skyrocketing violent crimes."

In a statement to CBS News, Stefanik's senior adviser, Alex DeGrasse said: "Any implication or attempt to blame the heinous shooting in Buffalo on the Congresswoman is a new disgusting low for the Left, their Never Trump allies, and the sycophant stenographers in the media. The shooting was an act of evil and the criminal should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

"Despite sickening and false reporting, Congresswoman Stefanik has never advocated for any racist position or made a racist statement," DeGrasse continued. 

CBS News has reached out to representatives for Greene, Cawthorn and McCarthy, as well as Cheney and Kinzinger, and is awaiting response.

The gunman, who is accused of opening fire in a grocery store and live-streaming the rampage, is in custody and charged with murder in what officials are calling a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism. He shot 13 people — 11 of whom were African American, officials said — and 10 victims died. 

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