Kinzinger says being in the GOP is like being on a ‘hijacked plane’

Congressman continues criticisms of those who push falsehoods about the 2020 election and Jan. 6 insurrection

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger again took aim at his fellow Republicans for not pushing back against former President Donald Trump’s false assertions that the 2020 election was stolen, likening being part of the GOP to being on a “hijacked plane.”

Kinzinger, R-Channahon, appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday and decried the state of his party. He said any member who doesn’t show absolute loyalty to Donald Trump is a likely target of his supporters.

“To all of my colleagues in politics, let me say this to you: You either have to be a zombie for the MAGA belief system, whatever that is today or tomorrow ... or actually stand up and tell your constituents the truth,” Kinzinger said, referencing Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

The congressman continually has pushed back against Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and called for a probe into the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Some high-ranking Republicans still have not forcefully refuted Trump’s claims, while others have fully endorsed them. Many have tried to downplay the violence that occurred Jan. 6, during which five people died.

“We all know what the truth is,” Kinzinger said. “You guys know what the truth is. The American people and your base deserve to hear it.”

He said many Republicans continue to spread Trump’s falsehoods, or at least not challenge them, out of fear of losing their next election.

Kinzinger also was asked what it would say about his party if he were to lose his reelection bid next year. Multiple primary challengers already have lined up to take him on for his stance against Trump and voting to impeach him for inciting the violence that occurred Jan. 6.

The congressman said that no matter how his next election turns out, he will have “done the right thing” in calling out his colleagues but that if the GOP continued down this path, then it will “never be a national party again.”

“Right now, it’s like being on a plane that’s been hijacked, screaming toward the ground,” Kinzinger said of being a Republican, “and it may feel like a fun ride, but it doesn’t end well.”

Kinzinger used his TV appearance as an opportunity to ask for donations from supporters of his Country First political action committee, which he started to support candidates who “put the country before their political party.”

He also recently released a new episode of his podcast in which he spoke to Chris Krebs, a former senior Trump administration official in charge of securing the 2020 election. Then-President Trump fired Krebs for his efforts to debunk election-related disinformation.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.