Transcript: Rep. Adam Kinzinger on "Face the Nation"

The following is a transcript of an interview with GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois that aired Sunday, March 27, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

JOHN DICKERSON: We go now to Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He's a member of the panel investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol and he's in Houston this morning. Congressman, welcome.

U.S. CONGRESSMAN ADAM KINZINGER: Thank you. Good to be with you.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let's start- before we go to the January 6 committee, let's start with Ukraine. President Zelenskyy called for more planes and tanks from NATO, as you heard us just discuss. He said, I've talked to the defenders of Mariupol today, if only those who have been thinking for 31 days on how to handle- handover dozens of jets and tanks had 1% of their courage. You have advocated for a no-fly zone. What's your feeling about giving planes and tanks to the Ukrainians?

REP. KINZINGER: Look, I mean, I've talked to Ukrainian members of parliament, those out, you know, advocating for what's needed on the ground as well. And they say they need these. I mean, we can have the Pentagon all they want say, well, we don't think they have the pilots for the MiGs. They do. They have pilots trained and waiting. We can have the Pentagon say, well, we think this is escalatory. Well, if you don't think, you know, javelins that are killing thousands of Russian soldiers are escalatory, but then sending an airplane, you know, and frankly, Ukraine has already flown some airplanes is the, like, escalatory thing, that's just wrong. And I think it's sending the wrong message. We have to give them everything they need to win this war because we've made it clear we're not going to intervene directly. And I don't think we should at this point.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. We're going to move on, Congressman, to the January 6 committee. Bob Costa and Bob Woodward, who are both on with me a little bit later, reported on texts to the committee this- that the committee has from the wife of Clarence Thomas. And I just want to read a little excerpts of them. They are to the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, urging efforts to overthrow the election. Mr. Thomas wrote 'Do not concede,' And then in another she wrote, 'The majority knows Biden and the left is attempting the greatest heist of our history.' Where are these significant?

REP. KINZINGER: Well, look, I can't, as a member of the committee, confirm, deny the existence of those. I'll tell you, though, we have thousands of text messages from lots of people. We have a lot of documents. And we are going to, in a methodical, fact-driven way, get to the answers here. We'll- we'll call in whoever we need to call in. I think the bottom line for the committee is this, was there an effort to overturn the legitimate election of the United States? What was January 6 in relation to that? And what is the rot in our system that led to that and does it still exist today? You know, with conspiracy theories, as we've seen, you know, reported this idea of releasing the kracken or that the CIA attacked the DOD or was attacked by the DOD in Germany. John, like half of the country at one point believed some of that stuff. And this is a roadmap for how to overturn a legitimately elected government. So this is important. We're going to get to the bottom of this. And as we're seeing in Ukraine, people are willing to die for democracy. We at least have to be willing to put careers on the line for the same cause.

JOHN DICKERSON: So no one's disputing the authenticity of these texts. Which leads to the question: will the committee subpoena Mrs. Thomas and question her?

REP. KINZINGER: Look, I think, again, we want to make sure that this isn't driven, even though it's in the political realm, it's not driven by a political motivation, it's driven by facts. So when it comes to any potential future calling in of Ms. Thomas, we'll- we'll take a look at what the evidence is and we'll make a decision and you all will know as soon as we do. What I don't want to do is get into speculating too much, because I think it is important that we have answers for the American people in a factual way here.

JOHN DICKERSON: You talked about rot in the system. Does the rot reach the Supreme Court?

REP. KINZINGER: Look, again, I'm not going to say that. I'm not going to say that it does or doesn't. We're just going to present the American people what the answer is. And the Supreme Court handles their own ethics. They handle their own internal stuff. But what we need to do is present to the American people where they've been lied to, where they've believed lies, where there are bad actors out there, for instance, that are sympathetic to Vladimir Putin. That kind of stuff is very important so that in five or ten years when kids are reading in the history books about January 6th, they're not buying into any of these conspiracies. They're getting the truth.

JOHN DICKERSON: What is wrong with- you said the Supreme Court has its own ethics, so we'll let them handle that. Why can't a private citizen send texts, as zany as they may be, to the White House chief of staff, what's- what's wrong with that?

REP. KINZINGER: Well, again, we're in a position where we're not confirming or denying, you know, what's been reported by Costa and Woodward. But if they're- you know, look, in any case, if a- if a private citizen has a conversation, of course, we have a freedom of speech- speech in this country. The question for the committee is this or any exchange, was there a conspiracy or an attempt to come up with a reason or how close did we get to overturn an election. Look, we are not as the committee out to, you know, to throw people in jail. We can have criminal referrals like we do against Mark Meadows because he has denied legitimate requests from Congress to come in repeatedly. So that's in DOJ. Our job is just to get answers to the American people and then they can decide.

JOHN DICKERSON: Before- these texts drop off. They go away in December and January, given the passion with which Mrs. Thomas was texting. Do you- are you confident that Meadows has handed over all of his texts?

REP. KINZINGER: I'm not confident that- that Meadow's handed over everything at all. I mean, he was cooperating with us for a little bit, and then in an attempt to make Donald Trump happy, he stopped cooperating. We gave him plenty of space to come back to resume that. He has not. And in fact, he's waived executive privilege, you know, a thousand times by-by presenting us what he already has. So, no, I'm not convinced he's handed over everything to us. And that's why it's in the DOJ's hands now, whether to prosecute him for contempt. He has contempt not just for Congress, for his old institution of Congress, and thereby for the American people. I hope DOJ does the right thing and I hope we get all the information that- not- it's not Congress that the American people deserve, John. The American people deserve these answers.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right, Congressman Kinzinger, thank you so much for being with us. We'll see you again. And we'll be right back with a lot more on FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.

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