Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, explained why he thought his colleagues didn't speak up on Trump.
"You lose, and you'll be replaced by somebody like a Marjorie Taylor Greene," Kinzinger said.
Greene responded by saying Kinzinger was "irrelevant at this point."
Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said many of his Republican colleagues chose not to speak up about former President Donald Trump and challenges to democracy because they thought they'd lose their seats and be "replaced by somebody like a Marjorie Taylor Greene."
Kinzinger made the reference to the far-right Georgia congresswoman in an interview with Roll Call published on Tuesday. The Illinois Republican said why he took a vocal stand against Trump, despite most of his colleagues opting to say silent or supportive of the former president.
"It's really easy to convince yourself that you can't make a difference speaking out loudly," said Kinzinger. "The only thing that can happen is you lose, and you'll be replaced by somebody like a Marjorie Taylor Greene. And that's how these people convince themselves, 'Hey, the best thing I can do is go limp.'"
Kinzinger told Roll Call that he believed "our democracy is under siege" and that "nobody else is coming."
"We have this sense as Americans that somebody else will come and save the day because we always have," he said. "Nobody's coming, right? It's us. And I don't like the job enough to sell out the future of this country to keep it.
"So if it costs me my job, great. I'll go make more money and have a way easier life."
He added that he figured a vote on Social Security reform would cost him his political career, rather than the political dynamics of a former president continuing to baselessly claim the election was stolen from him.
Kinzinger is one of two House Republicans - Rep. Liz Cheney is the other - who sit on a Democratic-led select committee investigating the January 6 US Capitol attack. He was also one of 10 House Republicans who voted a week after the riot to impeach Trump for his role in provoking it. Greene, meanwhile, has said that suspects held in federal custody in connection with the riot are "being abused."
The Illinois Republican also told Roll Call he believed it was crucial that the narrative around January 6 not be distorted, adding that doing so could imperil American democracy.
"If we don't get this right, and the misinformation of 'peaceful protests' becomes cemented in narrative, we'll not learn anything and this democracy will be in real trouble," he said.
In an emailed statement to Insider, a spokesperson for Kinzinger said: "The point the Congressman is making here is that too many people are so afraid of speaking out and/or telling the truth because they don't want to lose their job/sense of power or their place in the 'tribe' - and he's pointing out how sad that truly is when you look at the alternative of staying silent, or worse, echoing the lies and the fear-mongering for this so-called acceptance."
Reached for comment, Greene said Kinzinger was "irrelevant at this point."
"The only people who give him any attention are the Democrat activists in the fake-news media," she said. "Who really cares?"
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