Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, said Friday that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is “siding with the insurgents” to help him become the next Speaker of the House.
Kinzinger’s comments come as the GOP hopes to regain a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, which would give them the power to name the next speaker. McCarthy, who is currently the highest-ranking Republican in the lower house of Congress, would likely be a frontrunner for the job if he could secure enough votes in his caucus.
The congressman, who has once been a fierce critic of the GOP leadership, said during an appearance on CNN that in his attempt to win the support of most Republicans, McCarthy sided with ” insurgents” of the party.
Kinzinger found himself at odds with most of his party over his vocal criticism of former President Donald Trump for his actions surrounding the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol building, and became highly critical of McCarthy and other GOP leaders.
He told CNN host Anderson Cooper that he “trusts nothing Kevin McCarthy says,” accusing him of siding with lawmakers who he says were sympathetic to the rioters for win their support to become a speaker.
“I’ll be honest with you – about a year or two ago he decided his only goal was to become Speaker of the House,” Kinzinger said. “And he’ll do whatever he has to, and he thinks siding with the insurgencies is the way to get there. Maybe that’ll get him talking, I don’t know.”
The GOP lawmaker made the accusation while criticizing McCarthy for trying to downplay testimony provided by Cassidy Hutchinson — who previously served as an aide to former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows — on the select committee of the Chamber charged with investigating the riot.
During testimony, Hutchinson said he received a phone call from McCarthy urging him to stop Trump from marching alongside rioters toward the Capitol. However, McCarthy said this week that he did not recall calling her.
“If I spoke to him, I don’t remember,” he said, C-SPAN reported. “If it came here, I don’t think I wanted a lot of people to come to the Capitol.”
Trump allies may not support McCarthy
Kinzinger didn’t specify which lawmakers he was referring to with his “insurgent” dig, but he has previously criticized the Trump-aligned conservative wing of the party. Some of those lawmakers have hinted that McCarthy may have some work to do to garner enough votes to become president, with some pushing Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, as an alternative.
Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska who is currently running for the state’s congressional seat, told the right-wing newspaper Newsmax in April that she might not endorse McCarthy as a speaker.
“It’s a mixed opinion right now, a lot of people don’t want him as Speaker of the House,” she said.
Meanwhile, in November, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, said McCarthy did not have the votes to be elected.
“He doesn’t have the votes that are there, because many of us are very upset about not holding Republicans accountable, while conservatives like me, Paul Gosar and many others are constantly being abused by Democrats,” she says.
Newsweek contacted McCarthy’s office for comment.