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Kinzinger: Reelection fears caused WI Rep. Gallagher to vote no on Trump impeachment

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) was an ‘iota’ away from voting to impeach Donald Trump over his action on Jan. 6, but was scared he’d lose reelection if he did, according to former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).

By Emily Singer - September 27, 2023
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Mike Gallagher
UNITED STATES - MARCH 1: Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., chairman of Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, testifies during the House Administration Committee hearing titled "Part 2: Committee Funding for the 118th Congress," in Longworth Building on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Wisconsin Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher was close to voting in January 2021 to impeach former President Donald Trump on charges connected with Trump’s actions during the insurrection that month at the U.S. Capitol, but changed his mind over fears he’d lose his bid for reelection, according to former Illinois Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

Kinzinger spoke on Sept. 23 at the Cap Times Ideas Fest, an event organized by the Capital Times of Madison, about the future of democracy in America. He was asked by moderators what he thought about his former GOP colleagues’ responses to the riot by Trump supporters on Jan. 6. The moderator mentioned a video Gallagher made in his congressional office as the riot was taking place, urging Trump to stop the attack.

Kinzinger responded by saying he had thought members of the House of Representatives would vote to impeach Trump, but he saw as the vote on impeachment neared that Republicans started to get scared that they’d lose their runs for reelection if they voted in favor.

“Anybody that I talked to that was on the line on impeaching that mentioned their reelection as a concern, they all ended up voting against it,” Kinzinger said. “What the hell do you need this job so bad for? I don’t get it. Mike Gallagher was one of those.”

Kinzinger added: “Mike Gallagher was, I think, an iota away from voting to impeach. And then a month later, he’s kind of on the front lines against [former Rep.] Liz Cheney. How do you make a pivot that quickly?”

Only 10 Republican House members ultimately voted to impeach Trump over his actions leading up to and on Jan. 6, when he riled up a crowd of his supporters with false claims of voter fraud before telling them to march to the U.S. Capitol to tell members of Congress not to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Several thousand heeded his call. They violently broke into the Capitol, seeking to block the peaceful transfer of power. More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes in connection with their actions that day.

Of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, only two remain in Congress. The other eight either lost primaries or chose to retire rather than seek reelection.

Kinzinger was one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. He sat on the House select committee that probed the riot, and he decided not to run for reelection.

Gallagher criticized Trump’s actions and said in a statement shortly after the riot, “Trump has lost my support — permanently.”

However, Gallagher opposed impeachment, saying that a “swift and strong censure from Congress” — which carries no legal weight — was the proper punishment instead.

After Kinzinger’s comments in Madison, a Gallagher spokesperson denied that Gallagher had ever been close to impeaching Trump.

“If re-election were a factor in his decisions, he would not have spoken out so forcefully against the objection,” a Gallagher spokesperson told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “The congressman evaluated the arguments for a rushed impeachment and concluded they were weak.”

Gallagher represents a safe Republican district in Wisconsin, which Trump carried by 16 points in 2020, according to data from Daily Kos Elections. A primary challenge is likely the only way he would be ousted from Congress.

Republicans wanted Gallagher to run for Senate against Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, but he passed on a bid.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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