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Why one Republican now regrets not voting to impeach Trump

Rep Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said his biggest regret is not voting to impeach Trump the first time

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Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., questions witnesses during the House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 27, 2021.

Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

As Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., wraps up his final term in the House, he says his biggest regret was not voting to impeach former President Donald Trump the first time.

Kinzinger was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year for incitement of insurrection, but no House Republican voted to impeach Trump in 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Kinzinger, who’s serving his sixth term in the House, said his vote against impeaching Trump is the vote he regrets most about his time in office.

“My biggest regret was voting against the first impeachment of Donald Trump,” Kinzinger tweeted Friday. “It’s important for political leaders to be transparent and admit regret when needed.”

The House voted 230-197 to impeach Trump in 2019, after he was accused of withholding military aid to Ukraine to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate then-presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump was acquitted by the Senate the following year. All Senate Republicans voted not guilty except Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who voted guilty on the abuse of power charge, becoming the first U.S. senator ever to vote to convict a president of his own party.

“The bottom line, Donald Trump withheld lethal aid to Ukraine so he could use it as leverage for his campaign,” Kinzinger wrote. “This is a shameful and illegal act, directly hurting the Ukraine defense today.”

Trump’s warm relationship with Russia’s autocratic President Vladimir Putin has come under heightened criticism from some Republicans since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and his stance on Russia alienates him from a majority of the Republican Party.

Since 2019, Republicans were usually more likely to view Russia as more of an ally than an enemy than Democrats, but a post-invasion Economist-YouGov poll released Friday showed that has changed. The poll found 88% of Republicans now view Russia as either unfriendly or an enemy, along with 83% of Democrats and 81% of independents. The poll, of 1,500 American adults, was conducted March 5-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

Kinzinger tweeted that he wished he could go back in time and vote to impeach Trump, but can’t and wants to look forward.

“What we can do now is to ensure that this never happens again, and that we all put the interests of our nation above our party,” he said.