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Embattled GOP Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger shared a chilling warning on Monday night, claiming he believes the United States could be on the brink of civil war.
The Air Force veteran added that it would be ‘naive to think it’s not possible’ after his own national party rebuked him and Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel branded the violent events of January 6 last year as ‘legitimate political discourse.’
Kinzinger, who is not running for re-election in 2022, joined CNN‘s Situation Room after he was formally censured Friday by the Republican National Committee along with Rep. Liz Cheney over their work on the Democrat-led House select committee Capitol riot probe.
Despite being one of few Republicans to call January 6 an ‘insurrection,’ the Illinois lawmaker suggested he understood the anger coming from people who genuinely believed the 2020 election was rigged — but that the tension could conceivably spill into violence.
Kinzinger explained the rioters — specifically one man captured on video wishing to drag lawmakers ‘through the streets’ and ‘cut their head off’ because he believed they were certifying a false electoral victory — probably ‘really believes what he’s saying’ about election fraud.
‘And you could multiply him by hundreds of thousands, or millions of people, because their leaders tell them the election was stolen. Look, if it was legitimately stolen, I would be ticked off too. That violates everything I swore to defend,’ Kinzinger said.
Kinzinger claimed he did not think another civil war was possible in the United States until the Capitol riot and ensuing Republican downplaying of the event
If Donald Trump and his allies convince enough people 2020 was stolen from him, the Republican legislator claimed, it’s not a ‘far off thought’ that ‘some day, some militia shows up somewhere to do something, and then some counter militia shows up and, truly, at that point, that is how you end up in a civil war.’
‘I never would say that we would ever have ended in that position, but I now believe it is a real possibility that we have to be wide-eyed as we walk into so we don’t have that happen again.’
Kinzinger took a more personal swing at Trump fans like those who broke into the US Capitol.
He appeared to mock their health, telling them if it ‘sounds cool’ to participate in a violent civil uprising, they should think about ‘the four or five heart medicines you’re on, Walgreens isn’t going to have them available.’
The military veteran only dug deeper into his fears of a real war when asked by host Wolf Blitzer.
‘A year ago I would have said no, not a chance,’ Kinzinger began.
‘But I have come to realize that when we don’t see each other as fellow Americans, when we begin to separate into cultural identities, when we begin to basically give up everything that we believe so we could be part of a group, and then when you have leaders that come and abuse that faithfulness of that group to violent ends as we saw on January 6, we would be naive to think it is not possible here.’
The Illinois Republican seemed to suggest he understood where the rioters were coming from, and blamed elected leaders for making these people believe the election was stolen
Earlier in the day Kinzinger appeared on the same network where he pledged to teach his newborn son Christian about the events of January 6 when he is old enough.
‘That’s going to be something I think in 5 or 10 years is going to be hard to explain, if you’re not on the side of truth,’ he said.
When asked what he’d say about Trump, Kinzinger replied: ‘I’m going to tell him he was the worst president the United States of America ever had.’
‘He was a liar. He was a charlatan.’
In his Monday night interview Kinzinger also suggested that McDaniel’s downplaying of last year’s violence as ‘legitimate’ discourse had a role to play in fomenting today’s tensions, looking for ‘a word even more intense than dangerous’ to describe her comments.
He also claimed RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel’s statement on the committee censure, in which she called the riot ‘legitimate political discourse,’ was ‘dangerous’
She made the statement after the Republican National Committee voted to censure the lone Republicans on the Capitol riot committee — who also voted to impeach Trump for the attack along — at the group’s winter meeting in Salt Lake City.
After it, McDaniel came out with a statement saying, ‘Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger crossed a line. They chose to join Nancy Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.’
Some prominent Republicans, like McDaniel’s uncle Senator Mitt Romney, Senator Lisa Murkowski and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell’s top deputy, Senator John Thune, rebuked the party for looking back at 2020 and punishing its own members.
It also forced Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to make a rare comment about the GOP’s inter-party business on the chamber floor on Monday night.
‘Their statement didn’t even make mention of the violence that day,’ he said.
‘Last week they crossed a line, issuing a statement that censured two Republicans who stood up to the Big Lie while also describing the insurrection of January 6th as quote, “legitimate political discourse.” Their statement didn’t even make mention of the violence that day.’
The New York Democrat said the committee gave its ‘blessing’ to the insurrection by punishing Cheney and Kinzinger.
‘There’s no debate to be had here: January 6th was an armed insurrection. It was an attempt to reverse, through violent means, the outcome of a free and fair election,’ Schumer said.
‘And it was fundamentally rooted in Donald Trump’s Big Lie that the election of 2020 was illegitimate, which now the RNC seems to be giving its blessing officially.’
He said the Republican Party was completely under Trump and his cronies’ control, the day after one of his staunched supporters in Congress suggested the GOP needed its own ‘civil war’ as Kinzinger and Cheney’s censure brought stark inter-party divisions to the surface.
‘If we are truly going to stop the assault on our freedoms and stop what’s happening to our country, where America is just being able to be sold out to the rest of the world, we have to lean into this civil war in the GOP,’ Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene told the Washington Times on Sunday.
Amid the myriad of divisions, American voters can agree on the fact that they are only getting worse.
A recent poll of 1,000 people by the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service Battleground Civility found that a 67 percent majority believe the political landscape has only gotten worse since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.
Just 15 percent thought the opposite.
More people also believe it’s gotten worse since President Joe Biden took office, despite the 79-year-old Democrat running and beating Trump on a promise to unify the country.
Forty-three percent of respondents say political discourse has gotten worse since Biden took office, compared to 29 percent who said it’s gotten better.
Voters are concerned about growing political divisions in the country, according to a recent poll, and believe that things have got nastier since the pandemic began and since Biden took office