WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asked Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump, on Sunday to serve on the committee probing the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, and he said he “humbly accepted.”
Kinzinger will join Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the other leading Republican Trump critic, on the House Select Committee, with both of them tapped by Democrat Pelosi.
“Today, I am announcing the appointment of Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran and Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard, to serve on the Select Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement. “He brings great patriotism to the Committee’s mission: to find the facts and protect our Democracy.”
In his own statement, Kinzinger said, “I’m a Republican dedicated to conservative values, but I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution — and while this is not the position I expected to be in or sought out, when duty calls, I will always answer. …
“I will work diligently to ensure we get to the truth and hold those responsible for the attack fully accountable.”
Shortly after accepting, Kinzinger sent out an email from “Country First,” the movement he launched in January — after the Capitol attacks — to reclaim the Republican Party from Trump, conspiracy theorists and the related forces leading to the Capitol attack.
Kinzinger of Channahon, southwest of Joliet, said in the Country First note, “Despite threats of retribution from my party’s leadership, I’ve accepted the appointment.
“While I’ve said repeatedly that an Independent Commission, composed of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats NOT holding or seeking office, would be the least political way to discover the full truth, that effort was blocked by Republican leaders. This Select Committee is our next best chance to arrive at the truth, and I will do everything in my power to ensure the process follows the truth wherever it may lead — without fear or favor, no matter the political cost.
“I don’t kid myself that serving on this committee will make it any easier to get re-elected — it will be harder. But I learned a long time ago that the path of least resistance is rarely the path of wisdom, and doing what’s easy will rarely make you proud,” Kinzinger said.
Kinzinger’s political future was already up in the air before Sunday.
If he runs again for the House, there are several Trump Republicans — not well known or well financed — ready to challenge him in a GOP primary. Kinzinger has, as of June 30, stockpiled $3,075,610 in his main campaign fund, compared to $141,399 for GOP challengers Catalina Lauf and $11,605 from Jack Lombardi.
While Trump has repeatedly attacked Cheney and vowed to defeat her in 2022, he has never directly hit Kinzinger. Whether membership on the select committee draws Trump’s ire — in the way he has targeted Cheney — remains to be seen.
Illinois Democrats, who control drawing new congressional districts based on the 2020 Census, may try to remap Kinzinger out of the House.
Kinzinger has said if the new maps don’t give him a viable district, he may run for governor or senator.
No strong, well-known Republican candidates have emerged yet to challenge Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker or Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., in 2022.
HOW PELOSI CAME TO TAP KINZINGER
Last week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., yanked the five members he was recommending for the select committee after Pelosi used her veto power to block two of them — election deniers Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio and Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.
She accepted three others, including Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., of downstate Taylorville.
The House Select Committee is supposed to have 13 members, with McCarthy getting five picks, subject to approval from Pelosi.
Earlier on Sunday, George Stephanopoulos, the anchor of ABC’s “This Week,” asked Pelosi about the potential of adding Kinzinger to the panel. She said that was her plan, but she had not spoken to him yet.
After the show, Pelosi got in touch with Kinzinger and personally asked him to serve on the committee, Kinzinger’s spokesperson told the Sun-Times.
Kinzinger’s name had been in play since McCarthy pulled his five GOP choices to protest Pelosi’s veto.
The universe of House Republicans willing to risk their political careers at this point to take on Trump only consists of Kinzinger and Cheney.
House Democrats created the committee after Senate Republicans objected to creating a 9-11 style, bipartisan independent commission to investigate the pro-Trump mob attack on the Capitol on the day Congress was formalizing the election of Joe Biden as president.
Kinzinger and Cheney were the only two Republicans voting to create the select committee. They were also two of 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump’s second impeachment.
After Pelosi exercised her veto, McCarthy called it an “egregious abuse of power” and said he would establish a GOP-only Jan. 6 panel. The select committee holds its first hearing on Tuesday.
KINZINGER, WIFE EXPECTING BABY
Kinzinger and wife Sofia are expecting their first child, a son, in January.