As former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial gets underway, Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger is leading a lonely crusade within his own party to seek a conviction.
Kinzinger, of Channahon, said he has talked with a few U.S. senators to encourage them to convict Trump. Kinzinger was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Kinzinger, a McLean County native, conceded it's likely Republicans will vote to acquit with Trump then claiming victory.
“There’s no doubt he’s going to come out and say he survived again,” Kinzinger said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. "(Trump) is uniquely able to see something embarrassing and a massive failure like being impeached twice as something to rally a base around or to be excited about.”
LaSalle County Republicans have censured Kinzinger for his impeachment vote. The Winnebago County GOP will consider a censure on Tuesday night.
Kinzinger said he won't lose "an ounce of sleep" over the censures and has no regrets about his vote.
“In this day and age if you don’t tailor yourself to whatever the feeling of the moment is now, you are outside of the tribe,” he said.
Kinzginer also expressed disappointment that Republicans largely supported allowing controversial Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to keep her committee assignments, and that it took Democrats to strip those appointments from the freshman lawmaker who has previously expressed support for QAnon and discredited conspiracy theories.
“The Republicans should have taken care of that in house,” said Kinzinger, who represents the 16th Congressional District that includes much of north central and northeastern Illinois.
Kinzinger noted when Republicans met behind closed doors last week, they spent about 20 minutes discussing Greene’s standing in the party and four hours “attacking” Liz Cheney for her vote to impeach Trump. Party leaders voted via secret ballot to keep Cheney in her leadership role.
Kinzinger, who is in his sixth term in Congress, said he's faced backlash from constituents, friends, even family over his vote to impeach.
He said he rejects calls for unity from Republican Party leadership.
“I’m not going to unify under the banner of where we are at right now, and if it takes public quote-unquote warfare over the definition of what Republicanism is, count me in and I’ll fight to my political death for it because it’s that important,” he said.
Kinzinger also said he didn't anticipate his recent Country First video would spark a movement. In it, Kinzinger calls for the Republican Party to reject conspiracy theories and return to its core conservative values.
Kinzinger said he now hopes to use the movement to support local and statewide candidates for office.
“The only basic thing is you have one rule, you have to tell the people the truth and don’t peddle in conspiracies and be optimistic,” Kinzinger said. “Don’t peddle in fear.”
Kinzinger said he's not ready to say how much the political action committee has raised so far, adding he hasn't made plans to run for statewide office next year. But he hasn't ruled it out either, saying the Capitol riots “changed a lot” for him and shifted his focus to “saving the country and saving the dialogue of our politics.”
There's no subscription fee to listen or read our stories. Everyone can access this essential public service thanks to community support. Donate now, and help fund your public media.