‘I do hope they start their own party’: GOP congressman supporting impeachment
"No room" for "hardcores" in the Republican Party, Rep. Kinzinger told ABC News.
As lawmakers gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to pursue the second impeachment of President Donald Trump, Republican Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger admitted he's likely to face future political repercussions for openly committing to vote in favor of impeaching the president. Still, Kinzinger indicated he's ready to accept those challenges head-on.
"I think I'll definitely face a primary and the wrath of some of Donald Trump's hardcore base that will continue to exist, but I still believe that once he's out of office once we can evaluate this whole presidency outside of him having the megaphone," Kinzinger told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein on "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.
Kinzinger said that while he considers the vast majority of Trump-backing Republicans to be "just good Republicans" who had been "misled for four years," he hopes to see the extreme supporters leave the party.
"There are going to be some hardcores that are always out there -- for them it was about power. For them it was about being the Proud Boys and fascism and racism. I do hope they start their own party because I don't think there's any room in a Republican Party for them," Kinzinger said.
If that doesn't happen, Kinzinger warns of "a real reckoning" within the party focused on what being a Republican entails.
"I use the analogy of waking up Saturday morning from a real bad bender Friday night, just kind of looking around and going, 'man, what did I do,'" he said.
As one of just a handful of Republicans who had indicated an intent to support impeachment, Kinzinger said some members of his party are likely holding back from following suit due to fear of highlighting their own participation in supporting the president's false claims of election fraud. Kinzinger added that these types of actions laid the foundation for the violent attacks on the Capitol on Jan.6.
"Some are fearful because they're in some way connected to this. Some (Republicans) have made speeches and statements challenging whether the election was real and (contributed to) over four years kind of building this base narrative," he said.
Kinzinger noted that other Republicans are likely concerned with having to grapple with additional political fallout stemming from Trump's base, which could result in some members losing political favor in their home districts.
"Those fears may be correct, but the biggest fear, I think, you should have is that history is obviously going to write a lot of pages about what happens here and what's happened over the last four years -- you want to have your name on that right side of that historical page," he said.
Although the fifth-term congressman said he isn't worried about his physical safety on the House floor, he added that the fear looming over his party has to be reevaluated in a broader scope. Kinzinger specifically urged a need to reexamine the kinds of statements featured in fundraising pursuits and the messaging trickling down to constituents.
"It's not going to be some 'kumbaya moment' on the floor -- it's going to be an awakening by the American people to hold their leaders accountable to their rhetoric," he warned.
A week after violent protesters swarmed the Capitol, Kinzinger said he believes Republicans need to have a "family meeting" about a path forward. He also expressed concerns about his party having "nurtured and accepted the narrative of a stolen election," and called on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to address the actions of members who continued to object to the results of the 2020 election in the aftermath of the riot.
"I think, you know, Kevin's gonna have to, I think, talk to the conference and -- and I think go after some of these members that stoked it, and so we'll see how that goes," he said.