PEOPLE: GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger Knew 'Full Well' Voting to Impeach Trump Could Hurt His Career
"I did it knowing full well it could very well be terminal to my career," the Republican lawmaker said this week
The few Republicans who broke ranks with former President Donald Trump and voted to impeach him after the U.S. Capitol riot have faced fierce backlash from the conservative base. But one of those GOP lawmakers says the issue was more important than party politics.
"I did it knowing full well it could very well be terminal to my career," Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, 42, told CNN's David Axelrod this week. That interview came after a write-up in The Washington Post detailing Kinzinger's years-long break from the pro-Trump portion of a fractured Republican Party.
Earlier this month, Kinzinger and nine other GOP members of the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump, 74, for inciting the Jan. 6 riot, which left five people dead.
Kinzinger, a former Air National Guard pilot who served two tours in Iraq, has been one of the few Republicans to consistently criticize Trump, his party's standard-bearer, as well as to speak out against extremist conspiracy theories taking root among their supporters.
Last year, the Illinois lawmaker talked with PEOPLE about his push against conspiracy theorists amid the 2020 election, which featured a handful of congressional candidates who had voiced support for QAnon, a bizarre and macabre network of beliefs including that Trump is at war with secret evildoers.
Two of those congressional candidates ended up winning their election and are now in office.
Well-versed in observing conspiratorial chatter online, Kinzinger told the Post this week that he brought a gun to Congress on Jan. 6 out of fear the pro-Trump rally down the street from where Congress was meeting to certify Biden's win could turn violent.
Kinzinger advised his staff — and his wife, a former communications staffer for then-Vice President Mike Pence — to stay home that day.
Hours later, he said, he feared the worst when security alarms rang out inside the Capitol.
"I got the chills, frankly," Kinzinger told CNN. "I stood up and felt a real dark kind of feeling. A sense of evil kind of descending over the place."
The lawmaker said he barricaded himself in his office, ready to fight for his life: "I had the gun out, and was like, 'You know, it may come down to I have to defend myself,' " Kinzinger said. "We had no idea at all what was going on."
Since the attack and the vote to impeach Trump for inciting it, the GOP lawmaker, first elected in 2010, told the Post he has received threatening messages for breaking with the former president.
"The ones I worry about are not the ones that type out a threat," Kinzinger said. "It's the ones who just do it."
The full article can be found on the PEOPLE.com website here.