Calling the president or vice president invokes emotions and we want answers, not emotions. (U.S. Rep.) Liz Cheney (of Wyoming) and I want to insure we get to the truth in a fair and equitable way and we will fight back if that doesn’t happen.— U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon), speaking about Jan. 6 committee in Princeton
PRINCETON – U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Tuesday that he is focused on getting the facts of what happened during the storming of the Capitol, rather than instigating emotions.
Making a trip to Princeton’s Rotary Club while on a congressional break, Kinzinger, R-Channahon, said he doesn’t want to see the investigation focused on subpoenas because it takes away from getting to a bipartisan understanding of the truth of what happened Jan. 6.
“We need to get to the facts of what happened, and if we focus on subpoenas, that becomes the focus instead of the facts,” Kinzinger said. “Calling the president or vice president invokes emotions, and we want answers, not emotions. [U.S. Rep.] Liz Cheney [of Wyoming] and I want to ensure we get to the truth in a fair and equitable way, and we will fight back if that doesn’t happen.”
The congressman who represents Illinois’ 16th Congressional District made national headlines when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., appointed him to a special committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. He joined Cheney as the lone Republicans on the panel, both selected by the leader of the opposition party. Kinzinger and Cheney were among the 10 House Republicans to vote for Trump’s second impeachment.
Kinzinger shared his thoughts Tuesday with Princeton’s Rotary Club on the political climate, focusing on partisan divides he said are keeping the country from unifying.
Kinzinger said that right now, in part because of the media coverage, citizens are hyperfocused on every issue, which widens the divide between the left and right.
“We have to stop considering everyone on the opposite political spectrum our enemy,” Kinzinger said. “We need to focus on who our opposition is, and it’s not each other.”
Kinzinger initially addressed the issue of COVID-19, saying the country came together in eight months to create a vaccine because of “who we are and where we live,” which is proof the people of the U.S. can come together to overcome challenges without turning them into partisan issues.
“We’re facing a lot of challenges right now,” the congressman said. “We’re facing energy challenges with rising fuel costs, Middle East instability, Russian cyber interference, competition from China, supply chain issues. We recognize vulnerabilities, but we have to recognize what it takes to come together to solve those challenges, too.”
Despite facing those issues, he said there is good as well, particularly advances toward agreement on the infrastructure bill, which he said is an “investment in the next generation.”
“Improving infrastructure in this country pays off in droves,” he said. “But we’re too at each other’s throats over it instead of coming together to advance it.
“The division in this country is of great concern to me,” he said. “Understanding is in high need and short supply. We’ve become addicted to pointing out the differences between us by calling the other side the enemy. We can’t survive that. There is too much stoking of political fires, and our differences have forced us to defend ourselves against each other.”
Kinzinger said differences between parties lead to good and balanced governance, which is good for democracy, but Congress has turned into a show.
“This is a moment we have to learn to talk to each other again,” he said.
“If you take most left-wing/right-wing people and ask them their greatest fear, they’ll tell you they fear being left behind and that there’s no place in this world for them.
“Politicians profit off of stoking your fears,” he said. “And I’ve been guilty of it in the past, but over the last several years I’ve tried to stop coming from that place. It works for a cycle or two, but it becomes corrosive, and that’s not a recipe for success.”
Once the floor was opened for questions, it became apparent the Jan. 6 commission, a national commission to investigate the storming of the Capitol in the wake of the presidential election, was a topic on the minds of those following D.C. politics.
“I never expected or wanted to serve on this committee,” Kinzinger told the crowd. “I wanted a 5/5 committee of Democrats and Republicans to examine it.”
Kinzinger said he accepted a role in the commission in the interest of finding the truth about that day.
“I recognize it’s politically damaging and not good for reelection,” he said of his commission appointment, “but there comes a time when it’s more important to do the right thing.”
Kinzinger, who said he was armed in his office for two hours during the storming of the Capitol, saw the “hand-to-hand combat” that took over the building that day.
“Patriotism was abused that day,” he said. “People believed Congress could change an election, and we cannot.”
Kinzinger said he doesn’t buy the accusations antifa, Black Lives Matter or even the FBI were to blame for attempting to overthrow the election, saying people, even those with good intentions, were drawn into mob mentality once the Capitol was breached.
“I blame everybody for their own actions,” Kinzinger said. “But people were abused and manipulated – not only by the president [Donald Trump] but also by my own colleagues.
“Nobody believes what they’re telling you about believing they could overthrow the election,” he said. “I’ve talked to them. They thought they could stop the [vote] count and declare martial law and act as the catalyst to institute the Insurrection Act.
“We need to get to the facts of what happened that day.”
Kinzinger said he is at peace knowing what he’s doing “is the right thing.” He said determining the truth and being accountable, rather than sowing divides, will be the way forward.
“Calling the other side the enemy isn’t motivation for the next generation.”