After former president Donald Trump’s acquittal over the weekend, several Republicans who supported impeachment faced backlash and calls for censure from GOP officials in their home states.
But one Republican was condemned by a more intimate group: His own family.
“We are thoroughly disgusted with you!!” wrote relatives of Rep. Adam Kinzinger in a two-page letter first published by the New York Times on Monday. “And, oh, by the way, we are calling for your removal from office.”
Kinzinger, a six-term Republican from Illinois, was one of the 10 GOP House members who joined Democrats to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. After that vote, Kinzinger was censured by Republicans in his home district and then received a handwritten letter from a cousin that was signed by several other family members decrying his decision as a disappointment “to us and to God.”
The longtime lawmaker responded publicly to the letter on Monday, acknowledging that the political rift in his own family has become a shared experience for many Americans since Trump’s election.
“I’m ok, more sad that someone would be willing to choose a man over family,” he said on Twitter. “And sad that it’s happening to so many.”
Kinzinger’s family members accused him of joining “the ‘devil’s army’ (Democrats and the fake news media),” and extensively defended Trump against what they called “horrible, rude accusations.”
“To embrace a party that believes in abortion and socialism is the greatest sin,” the letter said.
The letter was written by Kinzinger’s cousin, Karen Otto, who told the Times that she hoped the congressman would be “shunned.”
“It is most embarrassing to us that we are related to you,” the letter continued. “You have embarrassed the Kinzinger family name!”
Kinzinger, a 42-year-old Air National Guard pilot, first told Business Insider about the letter last month, saying that he was surprised by the vitriol he had received in the wake of casting his vote to impeach Trump.
“It’s been crazy, when you have friends - that you thought were good friends that would love you no matter what - that don’t,” he told the publication.
Kinzinger’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Tuesday.
Kinzinger is not the only Republican lawmaker facing serious backlash for backing Trump’s impeachment. Most of the seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump have also faced calls for censure from fellow Republicans in their respective states in recent days.
Louisiana Republicans voted on Saturday to censure Sen. Bill Cassidy for voting to convict Trump, and the North Carolina party did the same on Sunday to Sen. Richard Burr. Party members in Utah, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Maine have also threatened to censure Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Susan Collins (Maine). Burr and Toomey plan to retire after their current terms. Most of the other senators were recently reelected and will not face an election for five years.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the seventh Republican who voted to convict Trump, is the only one who faces a reelectionbattle in Alaska next year that may be influenced by her vote.
Despite the pushback, the senators this weekend stood behind their decisions.
“If months of lies, organizing a rally of supporters in an effort to thwart the work of Congress, encouraging a crowd to march on the Capitol, and then taking no meaningful action to stop the violence once it began is not worthy of impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from holding office in the United States, I cannot imagine what is,” Murkowski said in a statement on Sunday.
In Utah, an onlinepetition to censure Romney that circulated on social media and gained thousands of signatures baselessly accused him of being “an agent for the Establishment Deep State,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported Monday. But state GOP leaders on Monday said they accepted Romney’s vote, which they said showcased “a diversity of thought” within the party.
In addition to voting to impeach Trump, Kinzinger this month launched the Country 1st PAC in an effort to push the GOP toward a more moderate platform and away from Trump’s polarizing politics.
“I am at total peace with my decision on impeachment and my mission to restore the GOP, to uphold the principles we hold dear, and firmly put the country first,” Kinzinger said in a statement on Saturday.
Following his censure on Monday, Burr echoed Kinzinger’s lament that the former president’s supporters have abandoned traditional conservative values.
“My party’s leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation,” Burr said in a statement, WRAL reported.