After Trump call, Republican Kinzinger says no member of Congress can object to election with a ‘clean conscience’

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., calls for a Trump criminal probe after audio surfaces of the president muscling the Georgia secretary of state to overturn the election in that state.

SHARE After Trump call, Republican Kinzinger says no member of Congress can object to election with a ‘clean conscience’
Swearing In Held For U.S. Senators To Start The 117th Congress

The 117th Congress kicked off Sunday with the swearing in of newly elected members. Pictured, the House chamber.

Erin Scott/Pool/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The new Congress kicked off Sunday, with Illinois House Republicans divided over challenging Joe Biden’s presidential win on Wednesday and with the addition of freshmen Democrat Marie Newman and Republican Mary Miller, a record number of women in the delegation.

Here’s the latest, with Republicans — in Illinois and nationally — at a crossroads as the Washington Post on Sunday posted shocking leaked audio of a desperate President Donald Trump pressuring Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win in that state.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said in the wake of the call, no member of Congress could object to the election results with a “clean conscience.”

Miller said in a statement it is her “responsibility” to Illinois to challenge the presidential election, which she said was “tainted.”

Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., co-chair of Trump’s Illinois campaign, said through a spokesman he is undecided about what he is going to do.

Trump will leave office with Trumpism, the movement he created, intact and strong.That threatens to fracture the Republican party — in Illinois and nationally.

Trump’s drive to overturn the election, based on conspiracy theories and countless allegations thrown out of state and federal courts, grows more frantic and dangerous as the Wednesday counting of Electoral College votes looms.

The audio shows how Trump was trying to put in the fix as Trump muscles Raffensperger to whip up “11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.”

Before the audio surfaced, about a dozen senators and more than 100 GOP House members said they will object to the Electoral College tally in a move that could delay, but not deny, Biden being sworn-in as president on Jan. 20.

Whether the audio revelations — of Trump’s stunning strong arming of Raffensperger— change any GOP minds about challenging the results Wednesday is not yet known.

Freshman Miller, an ardent Trump supporter, said in a statement, “I am fighting for the people of my district and with President Trump to ensure the integrity of our elections. I promised to stand with President Trump, and I will keep that promise. It is my responsibility to the great people of Illinois to object to the Electoral College Certification.”

LaHood, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2022, as of Sunday was on the fence over whether to join in the objections.

LaHood “is reviewing and analyzing the legislative and legal proposals,” his spokesman, John Rauber, said.

Kinzinger, mentioned as a possible 2022 Senate candidate, remains one of the few Republicans willing to call out election deniers and the conspiracy theories Trump embraces.

After the audio surfaced, Kinzinger said in a tweet, “This is absolutely appalling.To every member of Congress considering objecting to the election results, you cannot — in light of this — do so with a clean conscience.”

Later, on CNN, Kinzinger added, “this is so obviously beyond the pale, is probably not even the way to describe it.”

It’s one thing to support Trump, said Kinzinger. It’s another “when he loses and we are threatening a peaceful transition of power and we’re finagling with the very Constitution we rely on to keep peace in this country; that is very different.”

Kinzinger said once the “spell” Trump is able to cast “wears off, there are going to be a lot of people embarrassed by this.”

DURBIN CALLS FOR TRUMP CRIMINAL PROBE

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the number two Democratic Senate leader, was sworn into a fifth term and seems to have lined up support to be the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Durbin said Trump’s call was “more than a pathetic, rambling, delusional rant.” His effort to reverse Biden’s win “strikes at the heart of our democracy and merits nothing less than a criminal investigation.”

WOMEN IN CONGRESS: EVEN WITH RECORD, DISMAL OVERALL ILLINOIS RECORD

The117th Congress has a record number of women in the House and Senate, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. That’s 144 women, or 26.9% of all members.

Illinois has 18 House members and two senators, and, as of Sunday, seven of them are women, a new high.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is the longest serving female in the delegation; the other women, along with Newman and Miller, currently in Congress are Democratic Reps. Robin Kelly; Lauren Underwood; Cheri Bustos; and Sen. Tammy Duckworth.

Newman, from suburban LaGrange, replaced now ex-Rep. Dan Lipinski, who she beat in the March Democratic primary. Miller, of Oakland, a small town in southeast Illinois, follows former Rep. John Shimkus, who retired.

Overall, however, the gender parity in Illinois when it comes to sending members to Congress is dismal, even appalling. Since becoming a state in 1818, Illinois has sent about 500 people to Congress. Of that number, according to the Office of the House Historian, only 20 of them — and that includes Newman and Miller — have been women.

DUCKWORTH’S SPEAKER VOTE

Nancy Pelosi was reelected Speaker on Sunday, remaining the only woman to run the House. Duckworth got one vote for Speaker, from Rep Jared Golden, D-Maine, who did not want to back Pelosi.

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