tv Firing Line With Margaret Hoover PBS January 8, 2022 5:30am-6:00am PST
>> what we're stilill learning about january 6th one year later, this week on "firing line." on the day of the deadly attack on the capitol, representave adam kinzinger, a republican from illinois and air force veteran, was there and on alert. you sat here for six hours with a gun on the desk. >> mm-hmm. >> kinzinger had been predicting that the protests over the election would turn violent. you felt personally targeted. >> oh, i was personally targeted. when i'm one of only a handful of people that are republicans, you know, committing the cardinal sin of congratulating the president-elect. >> now representative kinzinger is one of just two house republicans on the january 6th select committee... >> in order to heal from the damage caused that day,
we need to call out the facts. >> ...searching for answers about what role president trump and his inner circle may have played. >> we must ensure that such outrageous election fraud never happens again. >> what about members of congress? and how organized was the attack? >> whose house?! >> our house! >> kinzinger is not seeking re-election, focusing instead on what he calls a broader fight. what does representative adam kinzinger say now? >> "firing line with margaret hoover" is made possible in part by... anby... corporate funding is provided by... >> representate adam kinzinger, welcome to "firing line." >> thank you. good to be here. >> you were one of 10 republicans who voted
to impeach president trump after the attacks on the capitol on january 6th. and you and representative liz cheney are the only two republicans who are on the january 6th select committee in the house of representatives. explain to our viewers the responsibility of the select committee. and what have been your findings so far? >> for me, some of the stuff is eye-opening. some of the stuff is affirming what's kind of been out there in the -- you know, you've heard rumors or you've seen in books. we have a lot more to do, but we're going to get a lot more information. and so when we put this all together, what we want to do -- and this goes to the purpose of the committee -- is not just, you know, expose who's responsible, but, really, it's about the preservation of democracy. so, january 6th was a day, it was a very bad day, but it was also not a cause. it was a symptom. it was a symptom of real deep rot in the democratic institutions.
and so i think what's going to be important -- and this is what i hope this all brings together -- is what led to the moment of january 6th. you know, what failed, what succeeded on january 6th? and how do we prevent something like this from happening again? and, you know, yeah, it's important for my constituents to hear the truth, but what i think is -- and this is what's driven me probably most. what's important is that, in 5 or 10 years, that the truth wilbe out there and that when history books are teaching january 6th, it won't be with some conspiracy that you're seeing from the former president. >> the investigation has already had several high-profile moments. there was the opening public hearings, where police officers, capitol hill police officers testified. new video was shown. there was also the moment where former trump adviser steve bannon walked out of court after being charged with failing to comply with a congressional subpoena.
>> we're going to go on the offense. we're tired of playing defense. we're going to go on the offense. >> and you said in a recent intervie that there are also sources that are lesser known that are coming forward to the committee every day to offer information, observations, and intelligence. how do these sources help you connect the dots? >> let's say we're talking about, particularly, what was the president's role on january 6th or you know, what did the president know prior? we talk about this war room that existed prior to january 6th. what we want to do and what we're going to be able to do and what some of these folks that maybe their names aren't that known do for us is to say, "why does a war room matter? what led to the setting up of a war room? what was their intention? was their intention just to slow a certification down or was it to actually stop a certification? was it to actually install donald trump again as president?" which, by the way, is a coup, because that's not
what the people wanted. and, so, if you think about for every mark meadows, for instance, or steve bannon, there's a number of people around those people that know pieces of the same information they do. and so that's important for us to help connect all of that together, as well. so, yes, we may want to talk to steve bannon about, you know, what did he know when he did his podcast and some other things? but there are people around him that know that, as well. >> you just ferenced that war room in the willard. there are critics out there that i know you're very well aware of who say to use the word "coup" is a vast overstatement. and some on the right say, you know, it's evidenced by the fact that they have been charged, the rioters, not with insurrection or seditious conspiracy. so why cl it a coup? >> because it was and it was an attempt to do that. if you think about, "what is a coup, it's basically a
forceful change of government. if you're an authoritarian regime and another authoritarian overrows you, that's a coup. if you're a democratic regime or a democratic country and, all of the sudden, you go against the will of the people, you violate democracy, and you change the outcome, you can call it anything you want. you can call it mcdonald's. you can call it dairy queen. but it's a coup. and i call it a coup, and it was a coup attempt. >> is that what you learned from some of these people who have come forward? did you learn that it really was a coup attempt that -- >> yeah, i'm not going to say that yet. i do know, though, from what's out there that there was a real belief that they could change the outcome of this election. look at the jeffrey clark memo. you know, look at the thing that says, "here's all you have to do to change it. send it back to the states. we can win it in the states." you know, yeah, maybe they thought they had a legal avenue to do that, but that is a coup, because that violates what the american people wanted. >> among the hundreds of
witnesses is georgia's secretary of state brad raffensperger, and he discussed with your committee the now-infamous phone call that donald trump made to him, where donald trump encouraged him to just find thos11,000-some votes that would be necessary to change the vote in georgia, which would have changed the election. you know, that was publicly reported. how does a testimony like his help shed light? >> i won't g into a lot of what brad had said in terms of what did that bring to us,nything new. but a lot of these is hearing from the people themselves, bringing that together. each one of these interviews or depositions that we do, it's not necessarily that person in and of themselves is going to be a "silver bullet," but it is part of now we have this infortion, we're going to get this information, and all the sudden, you can see patterns or you can see connections. and, again, the thing that i think is most important for the committee is to be able to, in a very digestible way, to put in front of thamerican people,
"this is what happened. now you can make a decision. if you think it's okay that that's what's happened, well, that's your right as an american. but this is the truth." because i got to tell you, the number of people i talk to, college-educated, you know wealthy business owners, whatever -- the number of people i talk to that say, "oh, yeah, the election was stolen" or "well, we know for a fact that the fbi incited this," it's -- in a normal time, u would say that's ludicrous. but there are millions of people that desperately believe this. the only thing i can do, the only way to disinfect conspiracy that i have control over is to present truth, and then people have a choice to make. do they want to believe truth or do they want to believe what feels good? >> in the weeks following the attacks, there were democrats who accused house repuicans of leading groups on reconnaissance missions throughout the capitol. and u and i spoke back in april, and you were emphatic that this is something that had to be looked into.
what have you learned? >> there's still more to come on that. we are -- we're going through a process right now, and there's going to be areas that we maybe either haven't explored or haven't talked about. we will. >> if it were to be the case thatembers of congress were coordinating with rioters who breached the capitol, would you be supportive of section 3 of the 14th amendment, which is the section that prohibits lawmakers and other officials who have engaged in insurrection from holding elected or appointed office in the future? should that be applied? >> 100%. if -- there's different degrees, right? there's different intentions of somebody thought that they were, for instance -- and, again, i'm not saying we have proof that this happened. i'm speaking now in a hypothetical. but if somebody thought they were giving someboda tour that ended up being beneficial to them committing the insurrection, that's one thing.
if somebody knew what the outcome -- it comes to intention. they don't deserve to be a member of congress -- not just because they violated the section of the constitution, but because you have an oath to uphold the constitution of the united ates against all enemies, foreign and domestic. you have an obligation to uphold your oath, because if the oath becomes nothing more than just words you say so you can get your photo op and put it in the newspaper, this place will fall apart, because there has always been a basic level. if you take the most conservative republican and the most liberal democrat, for instance, they may not agree on a single thing, but up until recently, there was a basic level of understanding that your vote counts and that we have to uphold the constitution. if that goes away, i don't know how we survive that. and i wouldn't have ev said this a year ago. >> from what you know now, based on any of your colleagues who were involved in that day,
do you think it's a possibility? >> i certainly think it's a possibility. i certainly believe -- and, again, this is not based on anything i know through the committee yet, but i certainly believe members of congrs knew what was going to happen. some members knew. i certainly believe some members instigated this. and when you have tweets in the morning like, "today is 1776," as lauren boebert did, for instance, i don't know how else to see that, because 1776 is a great american day where we threw off oppression. if you're tweeting, "today is the day where we great americans are going to violently throw off oppression," i don't know how that can be metaphorical or mean anything different than a revolutionary action. >> what are you learni about how much the rioters planned and how much some of the rioters got caught up in the moment? in other words, the percentages that were,
you know, premeditated versus following along with the crowd. >> you know, i don't know if there's -- if i could even put a percentage on it. i know that there are some people that did get caught up in the crowd. you know, ey go up to protest. they're angry. everybody's breaching the capitol, and it's mob violence, right? it's mob action. you get caught -- you can see it in the videos. somebody was blowing a shofar, which is a -- you know, a horn for a military advance. i mean, you see crazy stuff like that. people -- as a christian myself, watching people singing hymns and saying prayers in the senate chambe while doing this mission was especially offensive. i think some people gocaught up in the moment and i certainly think some people knew exactly what was happening. in public filings in charges against, for inance, the oath keepers, you see, you know, things where they believe at donald trump was going to declare the insurrection act, and then they would actually be
the law enforcement, not the military, for the insurrection act. >> are the rioters being charged appropriately, or would you like to see th charged with seditious conspiracy? >> you know, look, i'm not a lawyer. i personally thi a lot of them should be charged with whatever we can at the maximum, and if that is, you know, sedition and conspiracy, whatever, insurrection, great. when people run around and say at, you know, january 6th is comparable to the riots in the summer, it's not. so, the riots in the summer, they were violent. they were destructive. and that is an issue for justice to handle. and many of those rioters have been put in jail. but you look at what, was the intention? so, i disagreed with the riots. in fact, i was activated with the military with the riots. they were fighting for a cause and they believed that was the best way to do it, and it was wrong. january 6th -- what was that cause? that cause was the destruction or the changing of the outcome of democracy.
that is an existential concern. this country can absorb riots, as bad as they are. we know that there is a justice system and law enforcement that can protect. i don't think this country can absorb attacks on the very seat of democracy again. >> what do you still need to learn? >> there's a lot to learn. what we still need to learn is the details about who the president talked to. that's part of this process coming forward. who in congress knew what was going on? there's a lot at -- what is the role? we have some information on it that i can't discuss, but there's a lot more to come. what was the role of any foreign governments, misinformation? who were people working on behalf of? and i think, most importantly, who paid for a lot of this? these are areas we're not talking a lot about, but there's a lot of work being done to discover. >> out of the 10 republicans who voted to impeach donald trump, eight of them did not vote
for the select cmittee. your friend, representative jaime herrera beutler, in her statement about why she couldn't support it, said... your friend anthony gonzales said something similar. you are one of two republicans on this committee. how do you respond to those critiques? >> well, you know, i disagree with their vote. obviously, i'm disappointed in those comments. i don't doubt their courage. they took very courageous votes both to impeach and then many votes since and in between then. i do think, you know, for some people, it became easier to say, "i'm going to vote againsthis," because now you get to avoid the political blowback. "but i'm going to vote against it because, otherwise, it's too partisan." well, yeah, maybe it could have become partisan. i would argue this is actually a very nonpartisan activity, and it's been historically pretty amazing in that. and i think history will look at that. >> you don't hold any punches
with nancy pelosi's approach, and you've called her out and said that she is very partisan in her approach for many things. but are you seeing that same level of partisanship in your experience with the select committee? >> no, i'm not. and that's what's been interesting. i, of course, went on it knowing it was a risk and having concerns. it has been the most, i'll say, bipartisan, but probably a better word is nonpartisan activity or thing besides some overseas trip that i've ever been part of in my time in the house of reesentatives. bennie thompson and liz cheney, the chair and vice chair of two different parties, diametrically opposed politically. they get along very well because they recognize, as uneasy as this alliance may be, this alliance is necessary, because if you truly believe democracy is threatened, you're going to get along with somebody you disagree with. if you're still nitpicking differences -- and i say this to all the twitteratis out there that like to pile onto people.
if you nitpick differences, you truly don't believe that democracy is at risk. >> why are there only two republicans in the house representatives on this committee? >> i don't know. >> do you think that there are only two republicans in the house of representatives who believe democracy is as threatened as you do? >> i don't believe that there's only two of us. it's interesting. when you talk about republicans, i think there's no republicans out here that -- maybe one or two, 'cause i'll put a little space in there for possibilities. no republican actually believes the election was stolen. and the crazy thing is, 80% of the base does. it shows you that you have leaders that are afraid of their base. but i do think some recognize the risk, but maybe they don't understand. maybe there's a lot that don't understand, as i think i do, projting a year or two out, if there is not something that comes in between
our current tribalistic passions and the future, if there's not a change in trajectory -- just take how far we've gone off the rails in the last 5 or 10 years. now do that again in another 10 years and another 10 years, and you tell me how a kid that is under the age of 20 today that's never seen politics as some of us that are slightly older remember, when you would call somebody a gentleman or you'd get along -- nobody has seen that example. how do we ever expect them to bring us back from the brink? when we have generations that are more consumed with fighting fights of 50 years ago and culture wars than they are of actually raising up a better generation, i think that's the threat. i don't know how many people truly believe that, but it should be all of them. >> b you just said no republicans, maybe one or two, but basically no republicans actually believe the election was stolen. >> yeah, that's true. yup. and i lived through this and so many other issues -- not
issues nearly as important -- where some crazy kind of position pops up, and en the pressure to support it because you're going to get attacked if you don't -- you think of all the times we voted to defund obamacare and everythi else. this is that. and therare people that have convinced themselves that "i have to stay quiet so that i can win my relection, and then i can do something." or even ifhey don't say, "then i can do something," they say, "because the person tha replaces me is going to be worse. well, that's probably true, because we've seen that, but that doesn't mean you don't speak out, because, again, that just means, ultimately, when you do retire, the worse person is going to come anyway, and now nobody's going to believe that democracy is threatened because you never said it was. >> is america more polarized a year after january 6th? >> you know, the question of polarization is one i still debate. i don't know if the country is more polarized or the parties have gotten more polarized
and people have to pick. this is the thing -- we live in the matrix of "you have to be a republican or a democrat." look, i think both parties have failed the american people. and so the question is, as the democrats go more left and the republicans go more right and people are voting for them, does that reflect their polarization or the party self-selecting? but i will tell you, from january 6th to today, i don't know about the nation at large, but i believe the republican party has gotten even more polarized, because the day after january 6th, there was a lot of crickets in the "house republican conference," where all the repuicans gather, a lot of peowaiting to see what would happen. the day that kevin mccarthy went to mar-a-lago, he took the paddles from the ambulance, the political paddles, and resurrected donald trump from his political death. and at that moment, i saw in everybody, like, this realization, like, this heaviness like, "this guy is going to be around again." >> you just said the republican party is more polarized now than it was a year ago.
what happens if the republican party takes back the house of representatives in 2022? >> well, and i think the republicans will win. >> and so what does that look like, then, going into 2024? >> i believe that it will be chaotic to govern. and i have mixed feelings about this, because as a republican, i don't like what the democrats are doing. i don't like their policies. but i also don't want republicans taking the majority, which i think would be a result of democratic overreach, as well as just the fact that that naturally happens in a midterm, to be somehow a vision of -- and i think this is what trump is trying to glom on to -- that trumpism works. that's what i don't want to happen. but i think you will see -- let's say it is speaker kevin mccarthy. he will be led around by the craziest in the caucus, because they can deny him the majority in any vote. and we've gotten to this point in congress where instead of trying
to cobble together enough people to vote for a bill to pass it, you have to cobble enough people in your own party to pass a bill because you can't ever bring the democrats over. and the democrats do the same with us -- "we can't reach --" i've never had, by the way, the biden people, the pelosi people -- nobody has ever reached out to me on any of these bills and said, "what do we need to do to get your vote and to get more republicans?" fine. that's their choice. but now you have to deal with "aoc" and the democrats. and in the republicans, you've got to deal with the freedom club, and they're going to take kevin down. >> your illinois district was redrawn by democrats, pitting you against another republican so that only one republican will hold the seat. you said recently...
explain what worries you. how is our democracy so under threat and people are missing it? >> so, let's just take even the issue of gerrymandering. all the attention goes to republicans gerrymandering. well, i got gerrymandered in illinois this time, and it happened to me 10 years ago, too. they targeted me then. they target me now. both sides do it. this is a true both-sides issue. >> targeted by the democrats. >> by the democrats in illinois. >> as a republican, you were targeted by democratic redistricting, partisan redistricting. >> the point is, i've heard so many democrats say, "well, we have to do it in illinois because it's happening everywhere else." okay, you can make that point. and then the republicans say, "well, they're doing it now." this is never going to end until the american people quit looking to political parties that do this stuff in self-interest. they raise money on fear. they gerrymander for polical interest. til we rise up and say, his has got to change," it never will, because they're self-interested. why is it that i can rse
money, if i wanted to, on vaccine fears? because it works. if i've convinced you that the vaccine's gonna kill you, you'll part with anything, including your money if you think i'm going to be the thing that saves your life. and that's where the american people have to say, "enough!" and you have to look at -- people ask me all the time, "adam, how come you mainly attack republicans and not democrats?" it's because everybody attacks democrats in my party. nobody's talking about the fact that our house is terrible and it has to be changed. and i think people have to look into their own party and say, "we have to actually represent people and do things right." >> so, how is democracy most under threat right now? >> i think democracy is most under threat by tribalism. i think that instead opeople identifying anymore as american -- they may say they do and they may think they do, but they identify first and foremost as a republican or democrat. how do i know that? because the issue of wearing a mask has become a tattoo of what party you belong to.
we have big challenges in russia. we have big challenges with iran. we have big challenges, huge challenges with china. are we actually equipped to take on the threat of china when we're more interested in owning the libs or owning the conservatives? we are not. and when we talk about things like supply-chain security or supply-chain vulnerability and we can't get a basic bill passed out of congress because each of these interests are fighting for their own little piece, i got to tell you, in communist china and the chinese communist party -- they don't have that problem. i don't want the problem that they don't have, but i want us to be able to unite on these issues. tribalism is tearing this country apart. >> representative adam kinzinger, thank you for joining me on "firing line." >> you bet. thanks. >> "firing line with margaret hoover" is made possible in part by... and by...