GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger rejects Pence likening Trump to Ronald Reagan, says there’s ‘no comparison’ between the two

Adam Kinzinger
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois on Thursday rejected former Vice President Mike Pence’s comparison of former President Donald Trump to the late President Ronald Reagan, a Republican icon.

During a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Pence praised the 40th president, who served from 1981 to 1989, as a “one of a kind” and a “disruptor.”

Pence then linked Reagan’s legacy to that of Trump.

“President Donald Trump is also one of a kind,” the former vice president said. “He too disrupted the status quo. He challenged the establishment. He invigorated our movement, and he set a bold new course for America in the 21st century. And now, as then, there is no going back.”

He added: “Under President Trump’s leadership we were able to achieve things Republicans have been talking about since the days of Barry Goldwater.”

Goldwater, the late Arizona senator, was the 1964 Republican presidential nominee and lost in a landslide to then-President Lyndon B. Johnson in the general election.

When Kinzinger, who voted to impeach the former president for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, got wind of Pence’s comments, he was unforgiving in his assessment.

“Reagan inspired. Trump destroyed. No comparison,” he wrote on Twitter. “I am still amazed at these people that are so deferential to the weakest man I ever met.”

Read more: How Trump could use his relationship with Putin and Russia to skirt prosecution back in the USA

Kinzinger has been highly critical of Trump and the Republican leadership in recent months, even drawing the ire of several family members who have accused him of “treason” for defying the former president.

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” last month, Kinzinger blasted Trump once again, telling host Chris Wallace that Republican voters have “had their patriotism abused by somebody that simply wants to use it to maintain power.”

Reagan, who was an actor and a two-term governor of California before becoming president, has been regularly hailed as an arbiter of modern conservatism.

In the 1980 presidential election, Reagan handily defeated then-President Jimmy Carter, and his 1984 reelection bid against former Vice President Walter Mondale saw him capture 49 out of 50 states. (Reagan narrowly lost Minnesota, which was Mondale’s home state.)

Pence also took time in his speech to defend his role in certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, expressing that he would “always be proud” of his actions as vice president.

For weeks, Trump tried earnestly to get Pence to reject the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory, to avail.

“The Constitution affords the vice president no authority to reject or return electoral votes submitted to the Congress by the states,” Pence said. “The truth is there is almost no idea more un-American than the idea that one person could choose the president. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone.”

He added: “I will always be proud that we did our part on that tragic day to reconvene the Congress and fulfilled our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”

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GOP Rep. Byron Donalds says that he’s being blocked from joining the Congressional Black Caucus because of his conservative views

Byron Donalds
Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida.

  • GOP Rep. Byron Donalds says that he’s being blocked from joining the Congressional Black Caucus.
  • Donalds and his office have engaged with the CBC about joining the organization to no avail.
  • “My gut reaction is disappointment,” the congressman told CBS affiliate WINK-TV.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, a Black conservative, on Thursday said that he was being snubbed by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

Donalds and his staff have contacted CBC members on multiple occasions since the congressman was first sworn into office in January, according to spokesman Harrison Fields, but their efforts were rebuffed.

“Since starting in Congress, our office and the congressman have engaged with several CBC members expressing his interest in joining, but all we’ve got is the cold shoulder,” Fields said. “The sad reality is although the congressman and those in the CBC share the same race, the (R) behind his name disqualifies him from membership today.”

On Wednesday, BuzzFeed News reported that a source with knowledge of the CBC’s thinking indicated that the organization is blocking Donalds’ membership.

In a response issued on Wednesday, a CBC spokesperson did not directly address the allegation that Donalds was being prevented from joining the organization, but raised the issue of members sharing the organization’s “values.”

“The Congressional Black Caucus remains committed to fighting for issues that support Black communities, including the police accountability bill, protecting voting rights, and a jobs bill that helps our communities,” the spokesperson said. “We will work with those who share our values and priorities for the constituents we serve.”

According to BuzzFeed, Donalds has reached out to at least three CBC members in seeking to join the organization.

He said that he was committed to crafting bipartisan legislation and also pointed out that he was a member of the Black caucus as a lawmaker in Florida’s House of Representatives.

“My gut reaction is disappointment,” the congressman told the Southwest Florida CBS affiliate WINK-TV. “I understand that there are going to be issues we’re not going to agree on. But iron sharpens iron. And I think having those discussions are important. And it’s unfortunate that it appears those aren’t going to happen.”

Read more: 15 Senate Republicans are up for reelection in 2022. But Rick Scott – the man in charge of helping them win – has instead turned a key fundraising tool into Trump’s megaphone.

Donalds is one of two House Republicans currently in office, along with GOP Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah, who declined to join the CBC.

While the CBC has been overwhelmingly composed of Democrats since its founding in 1971, it has had Black Republican members in the past, including former Reps. Gary Franks of Connecticut, Allen West of Florida, and Mia Love of Utah, and former Del. Melvin Herbert Evans of the US Virgin Islands.

During a CNN interview on Thursday, Donalds said that he hadn’t “heard much from the CBC” in recent months regarding his pending membership.

“I have a perspective being a 42-year-old Black man who’s come up in America after a lot of the battles through the civil rights movement that I think would actually be helpful and a helpful perspective to the CBC,” he said. “Whether they want to take advantage of that is really up to them.”

In January, Donalds voted against certifying the results of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory over former President Donald Trump, citing election changes made in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I refuse to turn a blind eye to the fact that several states, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, neglected the oath of their constitution and the United States Constitution by their failure to follow their election laws,” he said at the time.

When the congressman was pressed about whether his support of Trump made him incompatible with the mission of the CBC, Donalds disputed the notion and emphasized his individual record.

“Whatever the president said in the past has nothing to do with this discussion at all,” he said. “As a black man in America, I’m allowed to have my own thoughts on who I choose to support and who I choose not to support.”

He added: “This is whether the ideology of somebody who is conservative is welcome in the Congressional Black Caucus. It’s really that simple.”

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Trump allies are reportedly worried that he is too obsessed with 2020 election: ‘He needs to weave in some new material”

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump.

When former President Donald Trump walked on stage at the North Carolina GOP Convention on Saturday, he was facing an adoring crowd of loyal Republicans who are eager to regain control of Congress in 2022.

After Lara Trump declined to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Richard Burr next year, the former president quickly pivoted to backing conservative Rep. Ted Budd, a move that reflected his role in shaping the future of the party.

However, Trump pulled focus back to the 2020 presidential election, bringing up debunked allegations of voting fraud and continuing to question whether some blue states truly voted for Democratic President Joe Biden.

For a group of Trump aides and advisors, efforts to combat the former president’s fixation on the 2020 election have proven to be a difficult proposition, according to a CNN report.

Trump has faced growing calls to aid Republicans as they seek to regain control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections, according to CNN.

However, Trump has mostly brushed off the concerns, listening to individuals on television and in his larger circle who have told him to continue relitigating the 2020 election, per the CNN report.

The former president’s address on Saturday was his first major public appearance since his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Florida, where he reaffirmed his commitment to the Republican Party amid a Wall Street Journal report that he sought to create his own political party.

Read more: We identified the 125 people and institutions most responsible for Donald Trump’s rise to power and his norm-busting behavior that tested the boundaries of the US government and its institutions

According to CNN, sources have said that Trump is “bored” by the issues that have been promoted by his advisors, which include threats to the country’s energy infrastructure and inflationary concerns.

One ex-Trump official told CNN that the former president is so “obsessed” with his failed reelection bid that he runs the risk of irrelevancy.

“It’s like a slow leak of a balloon that is now laying on the floor,” the ex-Trump official told the network.

Last week, Insider’s Jake Lahut reported on a tweet sent by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, where she stated that Trump was informing people that he expected to be reinstated as president in August.

Trump has also continued to push for audits of the presidential results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – all states that he narrowly lost in 2020 – similar to an ongoing GOP-initiated audit that is being conducted in Arizona.

Lindsey Graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Allies want to see Trump promote an agenda rooted in the future

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a staunch ally of Trump, reportedly sought to orient the former president’s messaging to deliver a speech that was “two-thirds forward-looking, one-third grievance,” according to a source that spoke with CNN.

David Kochel, a GOP strategist for several presidential campaigns, told CNN that Trump will benefit from such a message, but also emphasized that the former president knows what his supporters want to hear.

“Any good consultant will tell him to look ahead, not back and that would be good advice,” he said. “But one of Trump’s superpowers is knowing exactly what his audience wants. They want the hits, and the #1 hit on the charts right now is ‘Stop the Steal.’ There’s no way he can give a speech without playing that tune.”

According to CNN, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Fox News host Sean Hannity have also sought to drive Trump’s message in a new direction, fearing that the former president is detaching himself from some voters.

“The conspiracy theories and election fraud rhetoric are helpful for keeping a certain audience engaged but they do virtually nothing to move other voters – especially those who care about pocketbook issues – into our column,” said an individual close to Trump.

The individual added: “At some point, the election integrity stuff just becomes dull. We’re six months out and I think we’re starting to see that happen. He can keep running through the greatest hits but he needs to weave in some new material too.”

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McConnell says it’s difficult to be a Black conservative: ‘It takes a great deal of courage to deal with the peer pressure’

McConnell Scott
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, right, the sole Black Republican in the upper chamber, is accompanied by then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, left, at a news conference on Capitol Hill on June 17, 2020.

  • In a recent interview, Mitch McConnell said that it is “very hard” to be a Black conservative.
  • He added that Black conservatives face “peer pressure” when expressing their political beliefs.
  • McConnell praised his colleague, Tim Scott, who is thought of as a potential 2024 GOP candidate.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said during an interview that aired on Sunday that it is “very hard” to be a Black conservative Republican.

During a conversation on Kentucky Educational Television, McConnell mentioned that “at least three or four members” of the Senate GOP caucus would likely run for president in 2024. The conversation quickly turned to Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the sole Black Republican in the upper chamber, who is thought of as a possible contender.

McConnell praised Scott, describing him as a “star.”

“He’s a remarkable individual,” McConnell said. “It’s very, very hard to be a conservative Republican African American. We have a similar all-star in Kentucky in Attorney General Daniel Cameron. It takes a great deal of courage to deal with the peer pressure that is put on African American conservatives. I admire them both greatly.”

Scott, who has taken a lead role in crafting a bipartisan police reform bill in the Senate, has seen his stock rise in Republican circles as a skilled communicator in party that has struggled to attract minorities in its ranks in large numbers.

Read more: The House’s history-making top security official talked with Insider about his plan to reopen the Capitol and ensure it will ‘never, ever be breached again’ after the January 6 attack

Last month, Scott gave the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress, recounting his adolescence growing up the South while also delivering a healthy blast of conservative criticism for Biden’s legislative agenda.

He also detailed his personal experience of being a Black man in America and chastised liberals for racial insults he said he has endured over the years for choosing to be a Black conservative.

“I have experienced the pain of discrimination,” he said in the response. “I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason, to be followed around a store while I’m shopping. I’ve also experienced a different kind of intolerance. I get called Uncle Tom and the n-word by progressives, by liberals.”

Cameron, a McConnell political protégé who was first elected to office in 2017, becoming the first Black attorney general in Kentucky history, is widely considered to be a top candidate to succeed the longtime senator.

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John Boehner calls Trump ‘a guy who’s unemployed’ and ‘has nothing else to do but cause trouble’

John Boehner
Former House Speaker John Boehner.

  • During an interview on ABC’s “The View,” John Boehner called out Trump’s post-presidential behavior.
  • “Here’s a guy who’s unemployed, has nothing else to do but cause trouble,” he said.
  • Boehner expressed disappointment that Trump has misled his supporters about the election results.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio on Monday blasted former President Donald Trump as an “unemployed” individual who is out to “cause trouble” after losing his reelection bid last year.

During an appearance on ABC’s “The View,” Boehner, who is promoting his forthcoming book, “On the House: A Washington Memoir,” was asked by co-host Sara Haines when the GOP would have a “wake-up call” regarding the former president’s continued false claims that he won the 2020 presidential election.

At the Republican National Committee’s donor summit in Florida last weekend, Trump reportedly repeated the claim that the election was “stolen” from him.

“Here’s a guy who’s unemployed, has nothing else to do but cause trouble,” Boehner said. “Clearly, it’s obvious to me that he’s not going away.”

After the November general election and even after President Joe Biden was officially declared the winner, the Trump campaign unsuccessfully sought to overturn the election results in a range of swing states.

Read more: Introducing Todd Young, the most important senator you’ve never heard of

Boehner criticized Trump for continuing to push the false narrative that voter fraud cost him the election – even in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot prompted by his repeated lies.

“The president abused the loyalty and the trust that voters had placed in him by perpetuating this noise,” he said. “It was really one of the sadder things I’ve seen in the last 40 years in politics.”

When Haines asked Boehner why current Republican officeholders couldn’t be straightforward with Americans about Trump’s rhetoric, the former speaker didn’t have a clear answer.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not in the political world these days. I try to, frankly, stay as far away from it as I can.”

However, Boehner stressed that the party needed to return to its core principles.

“I think what Republicans need to do is act like Republicans,” he said. “I’m a conservative Republican, but I’m not crazy. I believe in fiscal responsibility and a strong national defense. We need to rally the party around what being a Republican means.”

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GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger calls Trump ‘an utter failure’ after the former president said that the Capitol rioters posed ‘zero threat’

Adam Kinzinger
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) speaks during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Capitol Hill on March 10, 2021.

  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger blasted Trump for downplaying the threat of the Capitol insurrectionists.
  • Trump called into Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show and lodged complaints about the election.
  • Kinzinger said that Trump’s on-air statements were “quite honestly sick and disgusting.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of the most prominent Republican critics of former President Donald Trump’s influence over the party, went after the former president again last week.

When Trump called into the Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s nightly show, he continued to push 2020 election-related complaints, but Ingraham pivoted to the deadly January 6 Capitol riot, asking the former president if he’s concerned that the US Capitol has become a “fortress” after attempted insurrection.

“I think it’s disgraceful,” he said. “It’s a political maneuver that they’re doing. It was zero threat, right from the start. Some of them went in, and they are hugging and kissing the police and the guards. They had great relationships. A lot of the people were waved in, and then they walked in and they walked out.”

He added: “I’ll tell you what. They’re persecuting a lot of those people. Some things should happen to ’em … but why aren’t they going after Antifa?”

Read more: A Trump-appointed prosecutor blindsided the Biden DOJ with a ’60 Minutes’ interview on the Capitol riot cases. Now a federal judge wants to talk about it.

Kinzinger rebuked Trump’s minimization of the riot, which included the death of US Capitol police office Brian D. Sicknick.

“He is an utter failure,” he wrote on Twitter. “No remorse and no regret. It’s quite honestly sick and disgusting.”

Kinzinger, who has represented a Republican-leaning congressional district anchored in central and northern Illinois since 2013, has been criticized by his own family in two open letters disparaging him for his vote to impeach Trump earlier this year and for his vocal criticism of the former president.

In one of the letters, Kinzinger’s relatives suggested that the congressman had committed “treason” as a member of the military for openly criticizing Trump and was working with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, whom they labeled a “witch/devil.”

Trump was impeached by the House for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the attack and 57 senators – including seven members of the president’s own party – supported the conviction.

Since the Senate didn’t meet a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, to convict, Trump was acquitted of the charge.

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Trump falsely claims in CPAC speech that he could beat Democrats ‘for a third time’ in 2024

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida.

  • Former President Trump continued to repeat false claim that the election was stolen.
  • “I may even decide to beat them for a third time,” said of the Democrats in a possible 2024 run.
  • Trump lost both the Electoral College and popular vote in 2020.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Former President Donald Trump on Sunday continued to repeat false claim that the election was stolen over a month after leaving the White House.

During Trump’s headlining appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Florida, Trump immediately lit into President Joe Biden, calling his tenure “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history.”

While alluding to a possible 2024 presidential campaign, the former president still refused to acknowledge his election loss, which he spent months trying to overturn through various election pressure campaigns against GOP officials across the country.

“As you know they just lost the White House,” Trump said of the Democrats. “I may even decide to beat them for a third time.”

Trump said that under Biden, the US has “gone from America first to America last,” a nod to the enduring conservative appeal of the former president’s go-it-alone worldview.

Biden has reversed a slew of Trump administration policies since last month, rejoining the Paris climate accord, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline project, and halting the withdrawal from the World Health Organization.

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‘Go to hell’: Meghan McCain slams Arizona GOP for attacking her late father

Meghan McCain
Meghan McCain.

  • Meghan McCain, a co-host of ABC’s “The View,” berated the Arizona GOP on Saturday for a tweet critical of her late father, longtime US Sen. John McCain.
  • After the Arizona GOP tweeted that they were “never going back to the party of [Sen.] McCain,” Meghan McCain said that the person “running this twitter account can go to hell.”
  • She also mocked the Arizona GOP’s performance this past November, with President-elect Joe Biden flipping the state to the Democratic column and Democrat Mark Kelly defeating appointed GOP Sen. Martha McSally.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Meghan McCain, a co-host of ABC’s “The View,” berated the Arizona GOP on Saturday for a tweet critical of her late father, longtime US Sen. John McCain.

McCain, a vocal Republican, was angered by a tweet that slammed the legacy of her late father, who was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee and represented the state in the US Senate from 1987 until his death in August 2018.

“As the sun sets on 2020, remember that we’re never going back to the party of [Mitt] Romney, [Jeff] Flake, and [John] McCain,” the Arizona GOP’s official Twitter account stated. “The Republican Party is now, and forever will be, one for the working man and woman! God bless.”

McCain responded: “Honestly whomever is running this twitter account can go to hell.”

She also mocked the GOP’s statewide performance this past November, adding: “How’d that work out on Election Day in Arizona?”

In the most recent election, President-elect Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state since Bill Clinton in 1996. Democrat Mark Kelly was also elected to the Senate, beating appointed GOP Sen. Martha McSally to fill the remainder of Sen. McCain’s term in the Senate.

Cindy McCain, Sen. McCain’s widow, endorsed Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

Over the past few years, Meghan McCain has often lamented the direction of the GOP under Trump, as her father was a constant target of attacks from the president.

Read more: Secret Service experts are speculating in group chats about how Trump might be hauled out of the White House if he won’t budge on Inauguration Day

Less than a month ago, McCain criticized Trump on Twitter for calling her late father “one of the most overrated people in D.C.”

“Two years after he died, you still obsess over my dad,” she wrote. “It kills you that no one will ever love you or remember you like they loved and remember him. He served his country with honor, you have disgraced the office of the presidency. You couldn’t even pull it out in Arizona.”

Sen. McCain, who withdrew his support of Trump in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, was also the pivotal vote that kept the Affordable Care Act largely in place, which has angered the president for years.

Since the death of Sen. McCain and the retirement of former Sen. Jeff Flake, the Arizona GOP has shifted further right.

Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party, has had an acrimonious relationship with the McCain family, having run a scorched-earth primary campaign against the late senator for the 2016 GOP Senate nomination, which she lost. McCain was reelected to a sixth term in the Senate that fall.

A Navy lieutenant and prisoner of war in Vietnam, Sen McCain rose to become one of the most influential and well-known senators in the body, maintaining a strong focus on defense and foreign affairs.

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