- Rep. Kinzinger on Saturday said that "Trump is winning" because so many GOP members "stay silent."
- Kinzinger spoke of Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who is retiring next year after voting to impeach Trump.
- "If you think Trump leads our party, you own his comments or you must denounce them," Kinzinger said to GOP colleagues.
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GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois on Saturday said that former President Donald Trump is "winning" the battle over the direction of the party because so many Republicans have chosen to quietly "watch from the sidelines."
In a video statement that appeared on Twitter, the congressman discussed Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, the Ohio GOP lawmaker who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol and last week announced that he would not stand for reelection in his staunchly conservative district.
"A couple days ago, my friend Anthony Gonzales announced he won't run again, and now the pundits and politicos are discussing whether this means that Trump won," Kinzinger said. "So, let me answer this question. Yes, as of now, Trump is winning. Not because Anthony decided not to run, but because so many in the Republican Party decided to stay silent."
He added: "Ten of us voted to impeach the former guy, fulfilling our Constitutional duty, yet so many GOP colleagues watch from the sidelines lacking courage to speak out while privately hoping for change."
The congressman made it clear that Republicans who choose to remain silent are complicit in condoning Trump's behavior.
-Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) September 18, 2021
"The future of power and politics in this country doesn't rest on the ten of us," he said. "It rests on the courage on the 180 others who have been silent so far. My GOP colleagues - the time is now to speak up."
He added: "If you think Trump leads our party, you own his comments or you must denounce them. If you think he doesn't lead our party, you must publicly say that. The time for hiding is over."
Trump has doubled down in seeking retribution against Republicans who voted for his impeachment; during a June rally in Ohio, the former president targeted Gonzalez and called him "a disgrace."
Last week, when Gonzalez announced his retirement, he cited the "toxic" state of politics as one of the reasons why he is choosing to leave the House.
"While my desire to build a fuller family life is at the heart of my decision, it is also true that the current state of our politics, especially many of the toxic dynamics inside our party, is a significant factor in my decision," Gonzalez said in a statement.
Kinzinger, who was one of only ten Republicans to impeach Trump for "incitement of insurrection," has been a thorn on the former president's side for months by calling for accountability for the Jan. 6 riot when many in his party have chosen to move on from the incident.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Kinzinger are the only two Republicans serving on the select committee to investigate the insurrection.
"I think this is ... the shot we have as a country to get answers to what led up to it, what really happened and what happened in the aftermath," he said. "I would expect to see a significant number of subpoenas for a lot of people. But I think the bigger thing is just what is the message that's going to come out this, is that the American people deserve the truth."