Turns out, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a fierce critic of former President Donald Trump, is not only unwelcome by much of the Republican Party base, but by a large faction of his own family.
Kinzinger was one of 10 Republicans who joined with House Democrats in voting to impeach Trump last month for “incitement of insurrection” following the storming of the U.S. Capitol — the former president was acquitted Saturday by the Senate.
On Jan. 8, two days after the attack, 11 members of Kinzinger’s family sent him a handwritten two-page letter, stating that the GOP lawmaker joined “the devil’s army” in breaking with Trump, the New York Times reported.
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“Oh my, what a disappointment you are to us and to God!” the family members wrote. “You have embarrassed the Kinzinger family name!”
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Karen Otto, who is Kinzinger’s cousin, authored the letter that rebuked Kinzinger for his “horrible, rude accusations of President Trump.” The cousin sent it to the six-term Illinois congressman’s father to ensure it would be seen — copies were reportedly sent to other Illinois Republicans, including members of the state’s congressional delegation.
On Jan. 6, while the rioting was still underway, Kinzinger released a video statement insisting the attack on the Capitol was a “coup” and condemned Trump, calling him an “authoritarian bully.”
“The current president incited this coup, encouraged it and did little to protect the capitol or the Constitution,” the lawmaker claimed — his efforts seen as an attempt to present himself as a leader in the post-Trump GOP.
As The Times reported, Kinzinger was one of just three House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump and strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., of her committee assignments.
Kinzinger dismissed the family members signing of the letter, telling the newspaper they are “brainwashing” victims who have been led astray by conservative churches.
He made clear his indifference to how his family feels.
“I hold nothing against them, but I have zero desire or feel the need to reach out and repair that,” Kinzinger said. “That is 100% on them to reach out and repair, and quite honestly, I don’t care if they do or not.”
The Times offered a detailed profile of Kinzinger and said he was “at the forefront of the effort to navigate post-Trump politics,” and rejects the GOP’s “fear-based tactics.”
“We just fear,” the Republican told the paper. “Fear the Democrats. Fear the future. Fear everything. And it works for an election cycle or two. The problem is it does real damage to this democracy.”
As for Trump’s acquittal, Kinzinger said he is not deterred, trying to bill himself as a leading voice in his party.
“We have a lot of work to do to restore the Republican Party, and to turn the tide on the personality politics,” he said.
If his ambitions fall flat, the lawmaker left open the possibility of leaving the GOP.
“The party’s sick right now,” Kinzinger said. “It’s one thing if the party was accepting of different views, but it’s become this massive litmus test on everything. So it’s a possibility down the road, but it’s certainly not my intention, and I’m going to fight like hell to save it first.”
The Times article included an anecdote about Kinzinger’s early differences with Trump, pointing to a 2016 fundraiser where Trump reportedly “poked his finger” in the chest of Richard Porter, a Republican National Committee member from Illinois, and told him to deliver to Kinzinger a vulgar message about what he should do with himself.
“When Porter relayed the comment to Kinzinger during a conversation on Election Day, Kinzinger laughed and invited Trump to do the same,” the Times added.