Rep. Adam Kinzinger knows GOP leaders wanted to scare him away from serving on the Democrat-led panel investigating the Capitol riot. And he doesn’t care one bit.
"Who gives a shit?" the Illinois Republican, one of his party’s best-known Donald Trump critics, told POLITICO of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s warning to GOP members not to accept an offer from Speaker Nancy Pelosi to sit on the Jan. 6 committee.
Kinzinger is one of only two House Republicans who voted with Democrats to create a select panel to investigate the insurrection, an effort Pelosi advanced after the Senate GOP blocked legislation that would have created an independent bipartisan commission for the same purpose. Pelosi gave one of her seats on the Jan. 6 committee Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — Wednesday’s other "yes" vote on the select panel — as the most likely contenders.
Kinzinger added that he wouldn’t comment on whether he’d serve on the 13-member select committee, saying only that “we’ll see how this whole thing shakes out.”
“I do think the threat of removing committees is ironic, because you won’t go after the space lasers and white supremacist people but those who tell the truth,” he said of McCarthy’s threat to strip committee assignments from any members picked by Pelosi to serve on the panel.
Kinzinger’s references to "space lasers" and "white supremacist people" are nods to Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), respectively. Greene lost her own committee assignments following a string of incendiary remarks, including a baseless conspiracy theory regarding wildfires and lasers, while Gosar spoke at a conference organized by a prominent white nationalist earlier this year.
Pelosi announced her picks for the panel later Thursday morning, before the House departs for two weeks. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters he would appear alongside the speaker at a press conference when asked about the committee. Thompson, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, has been widely expected to be Pelosi’s choice to lead the select panel.
McCarthy has yet to indicate whether he will make recommendations for GOP members to sit on that panel. But the California Republican’s closed-door warning delivered Wednesday to several of his conference members, which Kinzinger confirmed, suggest that he’s preparing to do what he can to undercut the Jan. 6 committee’s work.
Greene has indicated she’s interested in serving on the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 siege on Congress led by supporters of the former president, as have Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.). The prospect of pro-Trump firebrands trying to sabotage the panel’s work is causing anxiety among some Democrats, including several who signed onto a Thursday letter to McCarthy urging him to take "immediate action" against Greene.
The letter from 38 Democrats, led by Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), tells McCarthy that Greene’s "harassment of her colleagues has reached an unacceptable level."
The warning, in which McCarthy indicated that accepting a select committee seat from Pelosi could lose House Republicans their committee assignments, was first reported by Punchbowl News.