Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy “bears serious responsibility” in resurrecting former President Donald Trump‘s baseless election fraud claims following the deadly January 6 Capitol riot.
Kinzinger—an outspoken critic against fellow Republicans who remain loyal to Trump—appeared on CNN on Sunday in the aftermath of Trump's Saturday rally in Ohio, during which the former president rehashed discredited allegations of widespread voter fraud.
When asked by CNN Newsroom host Pamela Brown whether he blamed McCarthy for “allowing lies and conspiracies to fester within the GOP” following the 2020 election, Kinzinger responded: “Yeah, I mean there's so many people to blame, but he bears serious responsibility because he gave a great speech after the insurrection, he said Donald Trump is to blame etc.”
During Trump's second impeachment trial, during which lawmakers debated Trump's role in instigating the Capitol attack, McCarthy—who opposed impeaching Trump—said the former president “bears responsibility” for the incident. Kinzinger was among 10 House Republicans to have voted for Trump's impeachment in January.
“We know that [McCarthy] had that position for about a week, and then he went down to Mar-a-Lago because the majority was just around the corner, if you can only raise the money,” Kinzinger said. “And he took the paddles and he put them to Donald Trump and resurrected him politically.”
“Prior to that, McCarthy was kind of doing the McConnell, ‘Who's this Trump guy you talk about' thing,” he continued, referring to current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “And I can tell you my colleagues were kind of waiting around and ready to denounce the insurrection, but the second Kevin went to Mar-a-Lago, it all changed and it silenced so many people.”
Brown followed up by inquiring whether the congressman's public criticisms of his own party had an effect on in-person encounters with McCarthy and other GOP colleagues.
“Look, I mean, Kevin, I considered a friend of mine,” Kinzinger said. “But really, since January, it's like, what are you gonna do, what are you gonna tell me that, you know, there's some tactic behind denying that January 6 was what it was, there's some reason that getting the majority was worth denying the truth?”
“So look, I mean, is he still a friend? I guess, maybe, but I haven't talked to him in six months so I would assume that's probably not the case.”
Newsweek has contacted McCarthy's office for comment.
Kinzinger also reacted to a previous CNN appearance by Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who likened the authenticity of Trump's ongoing stolen election claims to professional wrestling, adding there is a growing recognition that Trump's narrative is “a lot of show and bombast,” but “going nowhere.”
“I mean, I hope he's right, there's a lot of people, though, that I've talked to that are mad at me for just telling the truth—which used to be a pretty basic, low bar—that really, truly believe that Donald Trump was elected president again,” he said. “And what you saw yesterday was a recycling of all his old talking points, it was a rally of a loser president.”
“I mean, he's the first president to lose reelection in decades, and I don't know why these folks would go there and in essence ogle at and, in many cases, just short of worship a loser.”
Brown ran a clip of GOP Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is known to have promoted conspiracy theories, telling CNN that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “should” place her on a new committee to investigate the Capitol attack.
“What do you think of that proposition there, and do you want to be on the committee?” Brown asked Kinzinger.
“Well, she has plenty of time, because she was stripped of her committees, so she really doesn't do anything but travel the country and attack people,” Kinzinger said, referring to the House voting to strip the Georgia congresswoman of her committee assignments over her past incendiary statements.
“But—you know, come up with crazy conspiracy theories and try to be famous, and she's done a good job of being famous, we all know her, so congratulations,” he continued.
“Would I serve? If asked, I'd consider it,” the congressman said. “I want it to be fair, I want to be able to pursue all leads, but at this point I haven't been asked, I'm certain that Kevin McCarthy won't put me on it, I'm gonna continue to get to the truth as best as I can anyway.”
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