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CNN: Adam Kinzinger Leaving Congress 'Largely As a Result of That Patriotic Service' on J6 Committee

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File

The 118th Congress will begin on Tuesday, without soon-to-be-former Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). Cheney lost her August primary by nearly 40 points, and Kinzinger retired after his seat was pretty much redistricted out of existence by Illinois Democrats. As CNN's Dana Bash phrased it, though, when having the latter on Sunday's edition of "State of the Union," they are leaving Congress "largely as a result of that patriotic service" of having served on the January 6 select committee.

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Speaking of his work on the committee, Kinzinger hardly gave a surprising answer when asked by Bash if former and potentially future President Donald Trump "should be charged and convicted." While he does think he should, he pointed out that this is his "personal opinion" given the work they've done on the committee, and reiterated "it's not from a from a lawyer or Justice Department."

Such a point from Bash about these RINO members leaving Congress seems to be the lie that just won't die. Cheney's constituents hated her, and the feeling seemed to be mutual. CNN discovered that for themselves when talking to Wyoming voters not long before the primary where Trump-backed Harriet Hageman emerged victorious.

Polling showed that her constituents, the people she's really beholden to, were less than thrilled with her work on the committee. A Casper-Star Tribune poll from July showed that from 64 percent disapproved of "Liz Cheney's decision to serve on the Jan. 6 committee," and 54 percent said it made them less likely to vote for her.

To equate Kinzinger's retirement from Congress with his work on the select committee and portray him as some kind of martyr is even more absurd. He chose to willingly retire. Kinzinger has also portrayed himself in the same way when it comes to standing up to Trump, only to then be rewarded by Illinois State Democrats making it known how they still regard him as a political enemy when it comes to the redistricting process.

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There was no mention of redistricting playing a factor in Kinzinger's decision to willingly retire during the segment, though. Instead, Bash continued to sympathize with him. 

When asked by Bash if he would do anything differently, Kinzinger, who mentioned he has been asked many times before, offered "obviously, there's been some sacrifice and everything in it," while adding "I wouldn't do one thing differently."

As he talked about how family members writing him mean letters "reminds me of just how bad of a place we have gotten to," and how he's had a moment "where you can stand alone, and where you're like the one person that can do the right thing in a crowd," Kinzinger became visibly emotional. "I feel honored to have been at this moment in history and to have done the right thing. My kids are going to be proud of it. That's something that I take very seriously," he said. 

While confirming that he is "not going to miss the job," Bash took notice, comfortingly pointing out "you're getting a little emotional" and "this is tough for you."

What Kinzinger does seem to miss is how he wants "to still be able to have an opinion," adding it will be "tough" to be "adjusting to the fact that people will have less interest in what you have to say." The soon-to-be-former congressman seems to have failed to pick up on, though, that his influence, especially in the Republican Party, has already waned. 

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Then again, Kinzinger likely doesn't care much about the party he still claims to be a member of. For when Bash gave him the opportunity to bash Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) asking "what does it say about the future of your party, the Republican Party," in that "people like [MTG] are kind of ascendant, and the Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheneys of the world are no longer in the Congress?"

Kinzinger took the bait, claiming "the Republican Party is not the future of this country unless it corrects, right, unless there's a change, because I got to tell you, if you think of a successful America in 20 years, that's not going to be an America based on what Marjorie Taylor Greene wants, or based on what some of these radicals want," as he then tried to make a plea for how "the only way this country can succeed is if we learn to work together."

The conversation extended to Kinzinger throwing McCarthy under the bus as well, something he has engaged in before, as he claimed that McCarthy "is the reason Donald Trump is still a factor."

Both Kinzinger and Cheney may have future political ambitions. So while they may not be in Congress for the time being, that doesn't mean this is the last we'll have heard from them.

Kinzinger may be even further emboldened to stay involved given his answer when asked if he is "optimistic or fearful for American democracy."

While Kinzinger is optimistic in the longer term, he is presently "a little fearful in the short term," claiming "we're in a moment where facts don't really matter."

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About being optimistic, Kinzinger pointed out that "democracies are not defined by bad days. We're defined by how we come out of those bad days. And so, in the long term, I am optimistic, but I got to say to people, this is not a moment to rest. This is a moment where you have to understand there have to be uncomfortable alliances to defend democracy, but we can do this."

While Kinzinger confirmed potential ambitions do not include running against Trump in 2024, despite previously hinting at it, Bash did close the segment by pointing out "no matter what you do, I don't think that this is the last that we're going to hear from Adam Kinzinger." 

"Kinzinger" was trending over Twitter on Monday, the eve of when he leaves Congress.

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