Republican Adam Kinzinger Rips Trump's Praise of Robert E. Lee, Demands GOP Condemnation

Representative Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, and several other prominent conservatives slammed former President Donald Trump after he released a Wednesday statement praising Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Trump released the remarks after a statue of Lee—who led the Confederacy in the failed rebellion against the United States during the Civil War—was taken down in Richmond, Virginia. The former president claimed Lee is considered by many to be "the greatest strategist of them all," despite the fact that he lost the war for the South.

"If only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in complete and total victory many years ago," Trump said.

Kinzinger was quick to condemn Trump for praising a traitor who led the South's military in an effort to tear the country apart. He urged Republican leaders to denounce the former president's remarks as well.

"I wonder what @GOPLeader [Kevin McCarthy] thinks of this statement? Yesterday he announced that Trump would be headlining the @NRCC fundraiser in Tampa this November. Would this country be better with the genius of Robert E Lee? The GOP must condemn this, Or am i again the only one? [sic]," the GOP lawmaker tweeted.

I wonder what @GOPLeader thinks of this statement? Yesterday he announced that Trump would be headlining the @NRCC fundraiser in Tampa this November. Would this country be better with the genius of Robert E Lee? The GOP must condemn this, Or am i again the only one? https://t.co/E0u13KzV0C

— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) September 9, 2021

Kinzinger was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump for allegedly inciting a mob of his supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The Illinois Republican has repeatedly slammed McCarthy and other GOP lawmakers for their continued support of the former president in the wake of the violent insurrection.

Other conservatives who have long been critical of Trump slammed the statement on Lee as well.

"The 'genius' of Robert E. Lee almost ripped America in two forever. Trump is trying hard to finish the job," Miles Taylor, who previously served as chief of staff for the Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration, tweeted. Taylor left his role in the Trump administration in 2019 and went on to become a prominent critic of the former president.

The “genius” of Robert E. Lee almost ripped America in two forever.

Trump is trying hard to finish the job. https://t.co/iQnyHjFTiq

— Miles Taylor (@MilesTaylorUSA) September 9, 2021

"Trump's love of losers knows no bounds since he has entered their ranks. Robert E. Lee admitted defeat, and lived with it. Trump pretends he was not defeated for he is not man enough to handle it," John W. Dean, who served as White House counsel in the administration of former GOP President Richard Nixon, tweeted.

Trump’s love of losers knows no bounds since he has entered their ranks. Robert E. Lee admitted defeat, and lived with it. Trump pretends he was not defeated for he is not man enough to handle it. https://t.co/UNafJ2ruzM

— John W. Dean (@JohnWDean) September 8, 2021

The 12-ton statue of Lee was removed on Wednesday from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue. A renewed effort to remove the statue came in the wake of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. Floyd's death sparked national outrage and massive protests against police brutality and racism.

Lee was a slave owner from Virginia. He first led the Army of Northern Virginia from 1862 to 1863, and was later made the General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States in February 1865. He surrendered the Union Army just a few months later in April of that year—bringing an official end to the Civil War.

Newsweek reached out to Trump's press office for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

Robert E. Lee statue
The statue of Robert E. Lee at the Marcus-David Peters circle is cut up to enable workers to transport the very large statue on September 8 in Richmond, Virginia. Virginia removed the largest Confederate statue remaining in the U.S. following authorization by all three branches of state government, including a unanimous decision by the state's Supreme Court. Eze Amos/Getty Images