Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger on Monday came to the defense of soon-to-be-ousted House GOP conference chair Liz Cheney, arguing their party is poised to remove her from the influential post because she has consistently said former President Donald Trump is responsible for the US Capitol insurrection.
“She is being run out for one thing: her consistency. She said the exact same thing that (House Minority Leader) Kevin McCarthy said on January 6, which is Donald Trump is responsible” for the riot, Kinzinger said at a virtual event hosted by the National Press Club.
“You cannot unite with lies, if somebody is going to use lies to gain power and say, ‘let’s have unity,’ you can’t do it,” the Illinois Republican added. “‘We need to remove Liz Cheney because she makes me have to answer questions that I know are false.’ That’s what they’re saying.”
The comments come days before the GOP caucus is expected to remove Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, from her leadership post. New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a staunch supporter of Trump who has gained the support of both the former president and McCarthy, appears poised to be Cheney’s replacement.
Kinzinger, who has drawn stark contrasts with his own party, said at the event that McCarthy and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise “decided that winning the next election was more important than a clear-eyed recognition of what happened on January 6.”
“That was a lie that led to violence,” he said. “We’ve had leaders in our party – Donald Trump, members of Congress – that have convinced their base because it’s easier to do that and to tell them the truth, which is that 74 million people were not disenfranchised. They were outnumbered.”
He said he raised the idea with McCarthy that violence was possible in the days ahead of the electoral college certification, but his warnings were ignored – something he also claimed in a tweet on Monday.
“‘I really, really am concerned about violence on January 6.’ The response I got was based on the cricket sound, and then, ‘OK. Operator, next call.’ That’s fine. I did the best I could,” he said.
And in a severe broadside against McCarthy, Kinzinger said on Monday that he doesn’t consider the House minority leader to be speaking on behalf of the Republican Party any longer, “because he gave his voting card – gave his proxy to Donald Trump.”
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“He’s basically made the decision, when he went to Mar-A-Lago, that he was not going to be the leader of the Republican Party. He had the opportunity after January 6 … to basically take the reins of the Republican Party and be the leader, and he handed those reins over to Trump.”
Kinzinger didn’t spare the former President any criticism either, calling him a “paper tiger.”
“I think he’s never made a real decision in his life and I think he’s scared to death of his own shadow,” he said.
And in a clear swipe at some of his other colleagues, Kinzinger said while he thinks that Republicans still have a chance to win back the House after the 2022 midterm election, the “crazies” could endanger it.
“We still may win the majority, but I think that gets threatened. I think the crazies – and when I say crazies, I don’t mean the true believers. I’m kind of talking about the ones that are just like grifters like (Georgia Rep.) Marjorie Taylor Greene just doing it for the money and fame – they’ll be emboldened,” he said.
CNN’s Devan Cole contributed to this report.