The Atlantic published the transcript of a conversation between Kinzinger and its Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg held earlier this month at a conference sponsored by the Karsh Institute, where the former congressman discussed which lawmakers disappointed him the most over the past few years.
One of the ones I’m most disappointed in generally is Kevin McCarthy, because I always thought that McCarthy had some version of a political soul. And I’ve come to realize that to him it was all about just the attainment of power,” Kinzinger said.
He also blamed McCarthy for the “return” of Trump, pointing to a photo the California Republican took with the former president in Mar-a-Lago shortly after the attacks on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“Then that picture happened in Mar-a-Lago, and all of a sudden we went from considering doing a vote of no confidence against Kevin McCarthy because of his role in January 6 to a point where everybody turned against me, [former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.)], and the others that voted to impeach, all because of that picture,” he said.
He also said that Graham was a “big disappointment” to him because he thought the South Carolina Republican had agreed with him on a lot of foreign policy issues.
“And to watch him so closely adopt and closely support Donald Trump, when Trump was doing exactly what Graham was preaching against just prior to Trump’s arrival on the scene, was a
pretty disappointing moment,” he added.
Kinzinger also suggested that Graham may have been less inclined to support Trump if the late former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was still alive.
“I think Lindsey Graham needs a strong person to mentor him or carry him, and it was John McCain. And when John McCain passed, the next guy, the strongman that Lindsey Graham was drawn to, was Donald Trump,” he said.
Kinzinger, a staunch critic of Trump, chose not to run for reelection in 2022 after he was one of the two Republicans who served on the select Jan. 6 House committee. He has been on a media blitz to promote his forthcoming book, “Renegade: Defending Democracy and Liberty in Our Divided Country.”