Former Republican Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger began his new position at CNN as a senior political commentator on Wednesday.
Kinzinger joined the network for the first time on the 7 p.m. program “Erin Burnett Outfront” to give insight into the House of Representatives’ multiple failed attempts to elect a speaker at the start of the 118th Congress. The show’s anchor, Erin Burnett, announced Kinzinger’s new position at the network after he recently stepped down as a representative.
“I’m pleased to welcome him to CNN. He’s appearing tonight for the first time in his new role, which is senior political commentator and congressman, we really are thrilled to have you on board, so welcome,” Burnett told Kinzinger. “People have seen you over the past, of course, couple of years on the January 6th Committee and we’re so glad to have you on board.”
“It’s great to be on the team by the way, thank you, I’m excited,” Kinzinger said.
The former representative announced in October 2021 that he would not be seeking reelection after having served 12 years in Congress. He was one of 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of impeaching former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment following the January 6 Capitol riot, and later was appointed by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the January 6 Select Committee. (RELATED: ‘Scowled The Whole Time’: Rep. Adam Kinzinger Rips CNN’s Jim Acosta Over Interview With Andrew Yang)
Pelosi ousted several prominent conservatives including Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana. Former Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who lost her reelection bid to her primary challenger Harriet Hageman, also served on the committee.
Kinzinger’s first CNN appearance as a commentator focused on Speaker-designate Kevin McCarthy’s six unsuccessful attempts to become speaker due to the 20 House Republicans who voted against him. McCarthy has been unable to reach the necessary 218 votes to be handed the gavel, as he only received 203 votes in the first two ballots, 202 in the third and one less in the next few rounds.
“I think Kevin should step aside. I’ve been critical of him, frankly, since January 6, his return to Mar-a-Lago, his continuing to try and assuage this caucus,” Kinzinger said. “So I think it would be good for the country if he stepped aside. I actually think the best thing for the country would be this dark horse idea of Democrats agreeing to vote for an acceptable Republican with five Republican votes. What that would do is put an institutionalist in the role of speaker.”
Kinzinger said someone like Republican Michigan Rep. Fred Upton would be a suitable candidate to serve as speaker since he may be able to satisfy some Democrats, though it is unlikely.
McCarthy’s Republican opponents first nominated Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs to challenge him, but the representative only managed to garner 10 votes. Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Chip Roy of Texas then nominated Jim Jordan of Ohio, who received 19 votes in the second round and 20 in the third.
The day following the House’s adjournment on Tuesday, Roy and Republican Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert nominated Florida Rep. Byron Donalds to challenge McCarthy. He garnered a total of 20 votes from himself and his 19 Republican colleagues opposed to McCarthy’s leadership.