Days before the Capitol riot, Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger says he warned his colleagues that their baseless cries of election fraud may lead to violence.
“A few days before Jan 6, our GOP members had a conference call,” Mr Kinzinger tweeted on Monday. “I told Kevin [McCarthy] that his words and our party’s actions would lead to violence on January 6th. Kevin dismissively responded with ‘ok Adam, operator next question.’ And we got violence.”
On 6 January, a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol, leaving five people dead and the nation traumatized. Critics, including Republicans like Mr Kinzinger and Senator Mitch McConnell, have blamed Mr Trump for inciting the crowd with a months-long misinformation campaign and a raging speech he gave just before the attack.
Most other Republicans, however, have defended the former president, leaving independent voices like Mr Kinzinger’s increasingly lonely.
House Republican Leader McCarthy said a week after the riot that Mr Trump “bears responsibility” for what happened, but more recently has claimed the former president “didn’t see” the mob and did what he could to stop it. (In fact, Mr Trump hesitated for hours before condemning the violence.)
As of Monday afternoon, Mr McCarthy had not yet confirmed or denied Mr Kinzinger’s account of their conversation.
Mr Kinzinger, who represents Illinois’ 16th Congressional District, has emerged in recent months as a rare voice of dissent within a Republican Party increasingly dominated by Mr Trump’s loyalists.
“The Republican Party has lost its way,” he said in a video unveiling his political action committee, Country First, which supports anti-Trump GOP candidates. “If we are to lead again, we need to muster the courage to remember who we are.”
Mr Kinzinger voted for Mr Trump’s second impeachment, and is a vocal supporter of Rep Liz Cheney, the embattled No 3 House Republican who has criticized the “cult of personality” around the former president. The House GOP may remove Ms Cheney from her leadership position this week because of her comments.
Mr Kinzinger has compared the party’s situation to the sinking of the Titanic.
“We’re in the middle of this slow sink,” the congressman told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, “we have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it’s fine, and meanwhile Donald Trump’s running around trying to find women’s clothing and get on the first lifeboat.”
Mr Kinzinger said his party still needs to fully reckon with the “insurrection” of 6 January, but party leaders just want to move on.
“And I think there’s a few of us that are just saying, ‘Guys, this is not good,’” he went on, “not just for the future of the party, but this is not good for the future of this country.”
Mr McCarthy’s office has not yet responded to The Independent’s request for comment.