Congressman Adam Kinzinger appeared Thursday night on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” for a “reasonable conversation,” the CBS late-night host said.
Kinzinger, R-Channahon, mentioned to Colbert that he had met with President Donald Trump a number of times in the Oval Office and that he trusts the president.
“I’ve gotten to see his heart,” Kinzinger said to some boos from the crowd. “After Syria when the president made the decision to pull all the troops out, I talked to him about that, I said this is the wrong decision, and I actually saw in his eyes ... [he] really felt the weight of what he was about to do, and he reversed his decision on it.”
Colbert responded by asking Kinzinger what the status of U.S. troops was in Syria. Kinzinger said he didn’t know, because it changes daily. The congressman said it was important to keep troops in Syria to build up intelligence on ISIS, block Iran’s position and protect Israel.
“He said we’re keeping a couple hundred troops in there, which is essential,” Kinzinger said. “ ... We’re leaving Syria, we’re staying in, last I hear, we’re staying in.”
Colbert: “So why do you trust [Trump] if you can’t know what he means?”
Kinzinger said it’s not necessarily Trump making the decision. Colbert said he believes the indecision came from the president, not the Pentagon.
“He just came right out one day and tweeted it. It surprised me,” Kinzinger said.
“Does that sound like trustworthy leadership to you?”
“I don’t know if it’s not trustworthy. The president
can make that decision as
commander-in-chief. I have a right and responsibility to push back.”
Colbert: “Are you confused at people’s confusion at Republicans’ behavior in response to the president? He seems to break a lot of time-worn Republican rules that made you understand this is a Republican position. It might be personal morality, family values, it might be adhering to the Constitution, not having too much executive overreach, deferring to the decisions of the generals.”
Kinzinger said Colbert didn’t like the president, and he said: “No, because I don’t trust him, because I don’t understand. When we don’t understand, we fear.”
Kinzinger answered: “I got elected by 700,000 people, which every time I think about it, I was a middle-class kid, whose dad ran a homeless shelter and mom was a public school teacher. 700,000 people said I want to send you to Washington, D.C. All I do every day, the best I can to say, ‘I’m going to do what’s right,’ if that means calling out the president on some things like I did with President Obama, if that means support the president on some things like I did with President Obama too, sometimes that costs me within my own party. Just do the right thing. Ultimately, I’m not going to be in Congress the rest of my life, please.”
Colbert asked the congressman if he loves the job.
Kinzinger said if anyone says they love the job, they are either “crazy or lying to you,” which he noted was a joke.
“But you believe in it,” Kinzinger said. “You really believe in what you’re doing. It’s hard.”
“So if a congressman says he loves the job, ‘he’s either crazy or lying to you.’ The president said he loves the job, is he crazy or lying to you?” Colbert joked to Kinzinger’s laughter.
Kinzinger also is a pilot with the Wisconsin Air National Guard. He flew a mission along the U.S.-Mexico border last month, after which he agreed with the president’s assessment of the situation as a “crisis.”