By Nicole Lyn Pesce
This Illinois Republican is being shunned not only by his party but his family after a sharp break with the former president Donald Trump.
Eleven of Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s relatives signed and sent a handwritten, two-page letter calling him a “disgrace” and “embarrassment” to the family name last month, outraged over his call for the then-president’s removal from office following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In the letter shared with the New York Times , the furious family members called instead for Kinzinger’s removal from office, accusing him of joining the “devil’s army,” defined om the letter as “Democrats and the fake news media.”
Kinzinger’s cousin, Karen Otto, told the newspaper that she paid $7 to send the letter by certified mail to the lawmaker’s father, and also mailed copies to members of the Illinois congressional delegation. “I wanted Adam to be shunned,” she explained.
The paper published the letter in full — it can be read here:
The letter opens by calling Kinzinger a “disappointment” to the family “and to God” — with “disappointment” underlined three times, and “God” underlined once. It concedes that Trump “is not perfect,” but adds that “it is not for us to judge or be judged!”
The Times called Kinzinger “enemy No. 1,” noting that he was recently censured by Republican officials in his district after he voted to impeach Trump over the insurrection. What’s more, he’s launched a political action committee to counter Trump’s influence on the Republican party. (A censure, or public reprimand of a government official by a government body or political organization via a formal statement , carries no formal consequence.)
The letter and Kinzinger’s name went viral on Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -0.64% on Tuesday morning, with many readers lamenting that they had lost friends and split from family members over politics, too.
“That letter says things my mom said to me, and we’re not even Christian!” one commentator commiserated .
These divides run both ways, however, with some Trump critics admitting that they’ve shunned family members who supported the former president. “I did the disowning and cutting off” of friends and family, wrote one , going on to paraphrase the writer Maya Angelou: “They told me who they were, and I believed them.”
Some readers invited Kinzinger to join their families, instead. “He’s welcome at my home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. He can even sit at the head of the table,” reads one tweet .
Kinzinger isn’t the only Republican in the crosshairs after Trump was acquitted in his second impeachment trial over the weekend. Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey was censured by GOP officials in some Pennsylvania counties after he was among the seven Republican senators who joined all of the chamber’s Democrats and independents in voting to convict Trump of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol.
Read more: Trump avoids conviction in second impeachment trial with 57-43 vote in Senate
“As far as we’re concerned, his political career is over in this state, even if he were to try to run again,” said Washington County GOP chairman Dave Ball of Toomey. “His legacy is tarnished beyond repair.”
Kinzinger recognized that voting to impeach Trump could be “terminal” to his career but told a number of publications that the “bottom line is I’m fine if I’m not re-elected because I can look at myself in the mirror and I feel real peace.”