He explained that things have changed because there is so much mistrust, and since Jan. 6 not many other Republicans have joined him.
Kinzinger explained that the GOP leadership hasn’t said a word to him about his rabid opposition to the Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol and Donald Trump’s urging-on of his supporters.
“Kevin gave a great speech the week after that, and then he went to Mar-a-Lago and charged the paddles and brought Trump back to life,” he said of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). “That’s the moment when I realized, Oh, man, this is a problem. You come to understand that when the party and party leaders talk about unity, and in the same breath, say that Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party, what they’re talking about isn’t unity. They’re talking about capitulation. When under the guise of unity, you act like Jan. 6 was just whatever you want to make of it, that is capitulating to a false narrative and to a dangerous attack on democracy. I will certainly talk to Kevin if he wants to. But I don’t see how we’re ever going to come eye-to-eye on this until there is a recognition that we can’t be the party of insurrection.”
Kinzinger made it clear that McCarthy’s only real desire is to become the Speaker of the House. It’s a gig that his fellow “Young Gun” Paul Ryan captured quickly and then Trump destroyed as he sought to enact his policies.
“Part of me doesn’t blame him, because he’s not going to be a senator, he’s not going to be governor,” he said. “Being speaker is a huge deal. I think in his mind, once he’s speaker, he will be in a position to maybe lead the party differently. But the problem is that this is the moment where opinions of our base voters and our party are being baked in. This is the moment where history is being written as to whether something like Jan. 6 can happen again.”
Already militia members, QAnon conspiracy theorists and Jan. 6 participants are threatening to attack the Capitol in August and see that Trump is reinstated.
Kinzinger said that had McCarthy gone the Mitch McConnell route, “Who’s this guy Trump you speak of,” then the GOP would be in a better place as a party. Instead, “it’s all about how you become speaker.”
Previous reports have said that many Republicans fear Donald Trump and what he might do to attempt to bring them down. While he was in office they witnessed Trump takedown Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC). Trump has already pledged to go to Alaska to try and get another Republican to beat Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The only way that will change is if Trump loses his luster enough that he’s incapable of mobilizing his members.
Thus far, Trump has been unable to mobilize his supporters enough to even read and promote his blog. He’s still able to cobble enough people together for a rally, however.
He went on to say that he suspects there are Republican members who were aware of what was going to happen on Jan. 6.
“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,” said Kinzinger. “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. But if you have members of Congress who were involved in nurturing an insurrection, heck yeah, we need to know.”
He went on to say that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is achieving her goal of raising money and becoming famous but it’s clear that she doesn’t care about the damage she’s doing.
“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,” he said. “I also see what she’s doing as dangerous to the country, and so I have no need to be her friend. I’m not going to go sit down in a corner and convince her of my side. And if I do, then about 10 minutes later she’ll be taken over again by the desire to raise money. But I get along with the vast majority of the Republican conference. I think the vast majority agree with my position; they just aren’t speaking out. I don’t blame them all for that, but I wish more would.”
He also said that Democrats are making it worse by not accepting defecting Republicans into their tribe.
“Let’s quit playing this game on the left of ‘not enough, too late.’ Because that’s when people are like, ‘Fine, then I’m just going to pick my tribe and stick with them,'” he said.
Read the full interview at the New York Times.