Kinzinger on fight with Trump: ‘Yeah, he won. In the short term at least.’

·3 min read

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), one of two Republicans on the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, said in a new interview with WGN-TV that he believes former President Trump has won their short-term battle over the soul of the GOP.

Asked in the exclusive interview if the former president had won the “Trump vs. Kinzinger war,” the Illinois Republican suggested there was no reason to sugarcoat reality.

“Yes, yeah, he won. In the short term, at least,” Kinzinger, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, told WGN’s Ben Bradley. “There’s no use in pretending somehow I scored some major victory and saved the party.”

Kinzinger will leave Congress at the end of the year after a round of redistricting made his reelection race more difficult.

Most of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are either retiring or lost primaries. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the other Republican on the Jan. 6 panel with Kinzinger, faces her primary on Tuesday.

In the interview with WGN — which, like The Hill, is owned by Nexstar Media Group — Kinzinger said that he did not necessarily expect everyone to join him in opposing Trump but did not think he would have such few allies in his party.

“Maybe there wasn’t going to be a tidal wave of people to come over, but I certainly didn’t think I’d be alone,” he said. “We talk about democracy — Republicans like to talk about the Constitution — and yet we’re openly violating it now.”

Kinzinger voted for Trump in the past presidential election, saying that he is “the only person in America that didn’t vote for him in 2016 and did it ‘20.” He said voting for Trump was a “cowardice move” that he regrets.

He said he paid a price for not voting for Trump in 2016, and people remembered that he did not vote for him at the events he attended. He said he decided to vote for Trump in 2020 because he knew Trump would lose Illinois, a solidly Democratic state, and Kinzinger could avoid the isolation he felt.

But he said he would not do the same again if he could go back in time.

Kinzinger also criticized Democrats for the steps some in the party have taken to undermine moderate Republicans who oppose Trump.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent millions of dollars on ads promoting Trump-backed candidates in swing districts as the primaries for the 2022 midterm elections proceed. The committee has hoped the Trump-backed candidates will be easier for Democratic nominees to defeat in November.

Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), who also voted to impeach Trump, lost his primary for reelection earlier this month. Democrats ran ads supporting John Gibbs, his Trump-backed challenger.

Similar situations have happened in states like Illinois, where Trump-endorsed Darren Bailey won the Republican primary in June.

“When they’re spending donor money to promote these candidates that don’t believe in democracy and then come and tell me ‘Where have all the good Republicans gone?’ that does get a little frustrating, I’ll tell you,” Kinzinger told Bradley.

Kinzinger has served in the House since 2011. If people “wake up,” he told Bradley there may be an opportunity for him to “come back.”

But he said no matter what, he wants his son to be proud of his last name when he reads about this time period.

“I know at some point he’s going to be proud he’s a Kinzinger,” he said. “I have a lot of colleagues that can’t say the same, and I wouldn’t want to be in their position.”

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