WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ignored warnings from fellow Republican lawmakers that the events of Jan. 6 were likely to turn violent, according to Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger.
“A few days before Jan 6, our GOP members had a conference call. I told Kevin that his words and our party’s actions would lead to violence on January 6th. Kevin dismissively responded with, ‘ok Adam, operator next question.’ And we got violence,” Kinzinger wrote on Twitter.
During a Monday interview, Kinzinger stood by the account, adding that while he wasn’t sure McCarthy was capable of defusing the situation only days before the rallies were to take place, party leaders continue to ignore warning signs of further conflict.
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“Listen to those of us that predicted what was going to happen on the sixth, because what we’re predicting is going to happen right now, if we continue to lie to our voters, is the complete and utter destruction of the Republican Party,” Kinzinger warned at during a virtual event hosted by the National Press Club.
He also said he was “very disappointed” other House Republican leaders, especially McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., “decided that winning the next election and winning the majority was more important than a clear-eyed recognition of what happened on January 6.”
Kinzinger also said he considered pursuing a vote of no confidence against McCarthy after the Jan. 6 insurrection, but he instead decided to focus his efforts on former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment.
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“He basically made the decision when he went to Mar-a-Lago that he was not going to be the leader of the Republican Party. He had the opportunity after January 6 to, with Mitch McConnell, to take the reins of the Republican Party and be the leader, and he handed those reins to Trump and revived him,” Kinzinger said.
In this image from video, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., speaks as the House debates the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Pennsylvania, at the U.S. Capitol early Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (House Television via AP) ORG XMIT: WX413 (Photo: AP)
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The lawmaker’s comments come as House Republicans prepare to remove Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., from her leadership post as GOP conference chair over her opposition to Trump’s continued hold on the party and the rise of conspiracy theories in the conservative base.
McCarthy has told Republicans to expect a vote to oust Cheney from leadership on Wednesday.
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“Liz is being chased out for one thing: her consistency,” Kinzinger said. “She said the same exact thing that Kevin McCarthy said on January 6, which is that Donald Trump is responsible,” the representative continued.
Kinzinger, who supported Trump’s second impeachment over the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, is among a handful of Republican politicians actively warning against the party’s current beliefs.
“Since I got elected in 2010, what I’ve started to see is a party that stuck to its policies but began to be infected by, in essence, really kind of grievance-driven politics. It’ll mask itself as conservatism. The truth is, I’m way more conservative than probably some of my folks out there who think I’m a (Republican in name only),” Kinzinger said.
He cited the popularity of figures like Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. — a moderate who is widely seen as the likely replacement for Cheney as third-ranking Republican in leadership — as indicative of the party valuing loyalty to Trump over traditionally conservative planks.
“What I think has happened in the Republican Party is that policy has been replaced by personal grievance and by culture war. And culture war is really motivating,” Kinzinger said. “When you get angry about culture, the ‘wokeism,’ when you get angry about ‘cancel culture,’ you get angry about what they are teaching in schools … it really can overtake you that all you want to do is destroy the other side of the aisle.”
“Leaders for the last 10 years have learned that fear and conspiracy theory drives profits, and it drives votes,” he continued.
Like most GOP lawmakers who have dissented from the prevailing support for Trump and various conspiracy theories among conservatives, Kinzinger has faced harsh blowback from fellow lawmakers and voters. The congressman has been censured by local parties and condemned by his own family and community for his opposition to Trump.
Follow Matthew Brown online @mrbrownsir.
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