MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
If the president's actions are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense? That is a direct quote from Adam Kinzinger, a congressman from Illinois and a Republican, one of 10 Republicans who voted today to impeach the president. Well, Adam Kinzinger joins us now. Congressman, thanks for being here.
ADAM KINZINGER: Yeah, you bet. Thanks for having me.
KELLY: Did you expect more of your Republican colleagues to join you today?
KINZINGER: You know, I guess I'm pleased there were 10. You know, a few days ago, I thought it would be me (laughter). And so, you know, to that extent, it's better. I certainly did expect a few more. And I think, you know, what that comes to is, bottom line, I think there was some politics obviously involved in that decision. And this is one of those moments where the politics of the moment is completely overshadowed by the gravity of history that's going to look down on this.
KELLY: Do you fear repercussions for your vote?
KINZINGER: Yeah, I do. I don't fear much. And so I don't fear repercussions. I expect them. You know, I expect, obviously, there will be a political cost. But I also believe that in - maybe in the nearer term than people expect, this party is going to have a reckoning with who we are and what we stand for. There's always safety concerns. But the bottom line is, you know, I didn't get into this job to take the easy path. I represent 750,000 people, and that has to have the weight of it that exceeds your concern for your own job.
KELLY: Just to follow on something you raised there - fears for your safety. This is something we've heard from a number of lawmakers. Is there - you know, have there been any threats to you, anything that makes that concrete?
KINZINGER: Yeah, there have. You know, and I always take measures to protect myself and to be aware. And, you know, law enforcement, obviously, is aware. And - you know, but I had predicted weeks before that there would be violence on January 6 simply by looking at Twitter and seeing what was being put on there and being sent screenshots of Parler. I expect that between now and inauguration - and, sadly, probably after - there will continue to be. But I'm, of course, heartened by the presence of the National Guard here, and I think that's going to do a lot to deter big things. But I think it's kind of lone wolf attacks there's a lot of fear for now.
KELLY: Yeah. Just before we move on from that, I think a lot of us have seen the images of the National Guard filling the halls of Congress today, sleeping on the floor. What has it felt like at the Capitol today?
KINZINGER: It does feel militarized. And I'll tell you, it's, on the one hand, a sad sight to see that it has to be that way. But I'll tell you, I'm a guardsman myself, and I am really proud of these young men and women here and - you know, to put down their civilian jobs to come here and do this for an activation, to know that we have the ability to take people like that and send them to Iraq if we need to or, sadly, sometimes in the United States. But I also think it's an appropriate reaction because what we saw on January 6 was something that, you know, was unimaginable.
KELLY: Well, let's circle back to impeachment and where things might go next. We know that Mitch McConnell - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for at least another week - has said he's not going to bring the Senate back early, which rules out a trial before Joe Biden takes office. Game out for me how you see these next days, these next weeks going.
KINZINGER: Yeah. I mean, I wish he would start a trial. I do think it also makes sense because we are only seven days away from a new administration. Look; what I see is, this goes over to the Senate. They have a trial - I hope sooner than later. I'm not sure the requirements there. But I honestly - I think there's a pretty significant chance that the Senate does vote to remove President Trump, even though it will be passed his term. That will prevent him from running again...
KELLY: Really? You see enough signs that - I mean, there were only 10 in the House.
KELLY: You see enough signs? You need two-thirds of senators present to vote.
KINZINGER: You do. But if you look at the fact that, you know, in the Senate - I think after the insurrection, only six or seven senators voted to object to the election. And you still had 130 in Congress. Politics, you know, infects the House a lot more - somewhat by design in the Constitution. But, you know, I think every day that goes by, there's going to be people regretting their no vote as more information comes out.
KELLY: That is Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and one of 10 Republicans who voted today in favor of impeachment. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us.
KINZINGER: You bet. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.