Former Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger describes himself as politically "homeless," at odds with a party he views as "anti-constitutionalist." He believes former President Donald Trump will be the 2024 Republican nominee — and if that's the case, Kinzinger intends to vote for President Biden.
Kinzinger was one of two Republicans to serve on the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot that sought to derail congressional certification of Biden's victory.
The other Republican on the committee was, who says she's considering a third party bid for the White House, although she told CBS "Mornings" Thursday, "I won't do anything that would help him," she said, when asked about possibly running as a third-party candidate.
Kinzinger shares that concern. "If a run as an independent for Liz Cheney damages Donald Trump, then I think it's smart. Go for it, right?" Kinzinger said. "The only concern I have, and this is with any third-party attempt is, you know, are you going to just take away from Joe Biden?...Donald Trump is the big threat to the country in 2024."
Kinzinger, author of the new book "Renegade," appeared on this week's episode of "The Takeout" with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett.
Asked about Trump's sizable polling lead in the race for GOP nominee, Kinzinger said, "If I was betting Vegas odds right now, I would put all my money [that] Donald Trump will be the nominee."
But Kinzinger said therelated to his alleged role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election could upend the nominating contest. He noted that Trump's last chief of staff, Mark Meadows, could play a big part in Trump's Jan. 6-related trials.
"Mark Meadows…whowith the January 6th Committee, was actually our most valuable player," Kinzinger said. "The little bit he provided to us is the thing that set out the whole roadmap for all of January 6th and all the involvement of Trump. Now he's cooperating. So there could be a lot more information that we don't know."
Meadows testified before a grand jury in special counsel Jack Smith's investigation. However, a source familiar with the case denied that Meadows reached an immunity deal with Smith.
This week, Smith's prosecution team filed a court document indicating it has developed information about Trump-led efforts to possibly obstruct vote counting efforts in Detroit in 2020. The prosecutors also cited comments from Trump wrongly alleging vote-flipping had taken place there as far back as 2012 – an indication Trump was deliberately sowing unsubstantiated doubts about election outcomes long before he lost to President Biden.
Kinzinger said if the choice comes down to Biden or Trump in 2024, the answer is easy – it's Biden.
"I don't even have to hesitate. Do I agree with everything Joe Biden's doing? No, of course not. He's a Democrat. I'm an old-school Republican, I'll say. But I believe he's a good man, and I believe he's focused on the Constitution. I believe he's not looking for reasons to violate the Constitution like Donald Trump is. I wouldn't hesitate at all," he said.
Kinzinger also rejected Trump's recent assertion that President Biden poses a grave threat to democracy.
"Anything that he puts on other people is usually what he himself is. I think he recognizes it. He tries to muddy the water by claiming that Joe Biden is the same thing. Well, there's no comparison in terms of who's a bigger threat to democracy."
Kinzinger said he still considers himself a Republican – but only at the margins.
"The only reason I'm not giving up the title is I refuse to let the anti-constitutionalist side win," Kinzinger said. "Every democracy in my mind needs a liberal or a progressive movement and a conservative movement because that tug and pull – that push and pull - is what actually makes a country advance at the right speed – not always perfectly. I'll continue to fight for the GOP but that doesn't mean I'm voting GOP. I'm not because they're an anti-constitutionalist party at the moment."
As for, the New York congressman expelled from the House last week, Kinzinger had to suppress a laugh.
"I'm glad Santos is out, obviously. I mean this kind of tongue in cheek, but at least try to launder the money that you're stealing. You know, George Santos just basically took a donor's check and then directly deposited it into his bank account. Like make an effort at least. He was so obviously corrupt that it was incredible. So, yeah, he deserved to go," Kinzinger said.
Arden Farhi contributed reporting.
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