Rep. Adam Kinzinger stands out as one of the few Republican voices calling the big lie – that the election was stolen from Donald Trump – exactly what it is. A lie. The Illinois Republican, an Air Force veteran with 10 years of experience on Capitol Hill, is brutally honest when sharing his opinions of GOP colleagues who still display unvarnished fealty to Trump and downplay the severity of and impact on democracy of the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Kinzinger squarely lays blame at the feet of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) for Trump’s political resurrection after the insurrection. “Kevin gave a great speech the after that and then he went to Mar-a-Lago and charged the paddles and brought Trump back to life,” Kinzinger said in a New York Times Magazine interview.
The Illinois representative was referring to McCarthy’s speech on the House floor in which he said that Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. Yet just two weeks later the California Republican, who desperately wants to be Speaker of the House, traveled to the twice-impeached former president’s estate in Florida and posed for that smiling thumbs-up photo. “That’s the moment when I realized, ‘Oh man, this is a problem,’ ” Kinzinger added. “I think he made the decision early on that he will take a fund-raising hit if he turns against Trump, that the Freedom Club will throw him under the bus. Had he done the Mitch McConnell – Who’s this guy Trump you speak of? – we probably as a party would be more moved on. But for him, it’s all about how you become speaker.”
Kinzinger is harsh in criticizing lawmakers who scrambled for their lives as the mob marauded through their workplace but today try to whitewash what transpired. “You have this [expletive] narrative that it wasn’t an armed insurrection,” he said. “Well, it takes two seconds to realize that nobody was arrested for carrying weapons that day because you had no place to put them. You couldn’t read them Miranda rights, and you couldn’t cuff them – because you were fighting to survive if you were a law enforcement officer. So we don’t know how many guns were there.”
Asked if he suspects that any of his legislative colleagues are in any way complicit with the insurrection, Kinzinger says, “I won’t name names, but yes, I do have that suspicion. I will say, if you just looked at Twitter – the whole reason I brought my gun and kept my staff home and told my wife to stay in the apartment was looking at Twitter. I saw the threats. When Lauren Boebert – I will call her out by name – tweeted “Today is 1776,” I don’t know what that meant other than this is the time for revolution. Maybe it was a dumb tweet that she didn’t mean. Fine. I’ll give her that credit for now.”
The veteran lawmaker has absolutely no use for Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. “I give her credit for probably achieving what she intended to achieve, which is: I don’t care about the damage I’m doing; I want to be famous and raise money,” Kinzinger said. “Congratulations. That’s not a serious legislator. She’s not on committees. She’s a freshman. No offense to freshmen, but I have no legislative need to have conversations with her. I also see what she’s doing as dangerous to the country, and so I have no need to be her friend.”