Kinzinger plotted to oust McCarthy after Jan. 6 attack
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said Monday he huddled with some GOP colleagues after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 to discuss forcing a vote of no confidence in House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Kinzinger abandoned the idea after it didn’t get much traction, but the revelation underscores how furious some Republican lawmakers were with McCarthy as he endorsed then-President Trump’s lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Kinzinger’s account comes on the same day McCarthy announced that he had scheduled a vote for Wednesday to boot GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (Wyo.) from the No. 3 leadership post for continuing to speak out against Trump’s false claims about the election.
“I actually thought the person that should have their leadership challenged was Kevin McCarthy after Jan. 6. Because that’s why this all happened,” Kinzinger said during a Zoom event with the National Press Club.
“I was considering, you know, having a vote of no confidence against Kevin, and our feeling was no, let’s move on. We’re gonna vote to impeach the president; we need to move on,” he said.
The House did vote to impeach Trump, accusing him of inciting the Jan. 6 riot that left several people dead and dozens of police officers injured. Both Kinzinger and Cheney were among the 10 House Republicans who joined Democrats and voted to impeach Trump.
Speaking to the press club, Kinzinger expressed some regret for not pushing more aggressively to oust McCarthy. Shortly after the Senate acquitted Trump of the charges, Kinzinger said the tables were turned and Trump loyalists made a move to boot Cheney from leadership.
“I didn’t go too far and wide with it yet, and I chatted with kind of a close group of mine. And the feeling in that close group — I won’t reveal who it is — but the feeling that group was kind of, you know, we’re taking a big step, the president is going to be XYZ, and now it’s time that we have to heal as a party. I was like, ‘Well, I’m not going to do it alone. I still believe that Kevin should at least have his leadership challenged,’ ” Kinzinger said.
“And then everybody went on the offense against Liz. And that’s what was a brilliant strategic play, because then all of a sudden, you know, Liz is the one playing defense, for what? What was she playing defense for, for telling the truth and not ransacking the Capitol on Jan. 6?
“If you think about it from the forest, it’s ludicrous that she’s having to defend herself. Like, that’s insane. But that’s where we are,” he said.
A Kinzinger spokesperson declined to comment when asked whether the congressman had any intention of calling for a vote of no confidence in McCarthy in the immediate future.
Earlier Monday, Kinzinger had also revealed in a tweet that McCarthy had brushed off his warnings that the GOP leader’s words and actions backing Trump’s false claims about the election could lead to violence.
“A few days before Jan 6, our GOP members had a conference call. I told Kevin that his words and our party’s actions would lead to violence on January 6th,” Kinzinger tweeted.
“Kevin dismissively responded with ‘ok Adam, operator next question.’ And we got violence.”