Kinzinger defends impeachment vote, saying he'd “regret it forever” if he didn't

Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger defended his vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump for his role in last month's deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol, telling reporters Tuesday he'd “regret it forever” if he didn't take that stand.

Kinzinger, who represents Illinois' 16th District, was one of 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment, along with 222 Democrats. Trump's trial in the Senate started Tuesday.

Last week, Kinzinger and 10 other Republicans joined Democrats in voting to remove Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia from her committee assignments because of conspiracies she's espoused and threatening comments she's made.

Kinzinger has taken heat from Republicans in his district and across the nation for siding with Democrats on these issues. The LaSalle County Republican Party censured him for voting to impeach and acting contrary to the values of the group.

Kinzinger refuses to relent, saying this is “a fight worth having.”

“I understand there's going to be backlash,” he said Tuesday during a telephone call with reporters while at his home in Channahon. “I'm putting it all on the line.”

Kinzinger has insisted his criticisms of Trump, other election deniers and Republicans who've expressed extreme or racist views isn't part of a bid to gain support among Democrats ahead of a run for statewide office.

During Tuesday's news call, he again said he has no such plans — although he refused to rule out such a bid.

So why do it, then?

“A lot changed on the 6th,” Kinzinger said, referring to the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol that left five people dead and dozens injured.

Kinzinger was in the Capitol during the attempted insurrection, taking refuge in his office as rioters stormed the building.

Kinzinger has said he believes he saw evil that day. He repeated that remark during Tuesday's media call.

Americans must take a stand against it and the people who fomented the violence, Kinzinger said. Without naming names, he criticized those he sees as culpable and have exhibited “a complete lack of remorse” for their actions.

Kinzinger had been critical of Trump since the election because of the former president's repeated but false claims the results were fraudulent and that he really won. He admits voting for Trump in 2020 but said he regrets that choice now.

On Tuesday, Kinzinger also criticized Greene and other Republicans who have embraced white supremacists and their philosophies as well as QAnon's wild conspiracy theories.

“There is no place in the Republican Party for QAnon,” he said. “There is no place in the Republican Party for white supremacy.”

Kinzinger, the only Republican in the congressional delegation from northeast Illinois, has been in the media spotlight in recent weeks because of his outspoken criticism of Trump, Greene and other members of his party.

He's also garnered attention for launching a political action committee dubbed Country First to take on Trump loyalists and extremists within the GOP. The late Sen. John McCain, another Republican who sometimes bucked the party line, had a political committee by that name, too.

Kinzinger said he's received “an outpouring of support” since announcing that effort late last month but declined to discuss financial donations the group may have received.

He said he's proud of Republicans who are joining him in an attempt to take back the party.

Kinzinger compared the effort to someone who goes on a drinking binge on Saturday night but wakes up Sunday morning and decides to straighten out his life.

“The Republican Party has an amazing, rich history,” he said, noting its role in ending slavery and fighting communism. “I think the Republican Party is worth fighting to save.”

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