Republican congressman says Trump supporters will carry out more violence if he is acquitted by Senate

A Republican congressman has called on Senate colleagues to convict Donald Trump, or see more violent acts carried out by the one-term president’s supporters.

Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican in the House of Representatives, warned in an op-ed on Monday that the second impeachment trial against Mr Trump was about “accountability”, and pleaded with Senate colleagues to convict – rather than acquit.

Writing in a Washington Post article titled ‘My fellow Republicans, convicting Trump is necessary to save America,’ the congressman argued that recent chaos could be repeated without a clear message being sent by a Senate conviction.

Mr Trump’s second Senate trial begins on Tuesday, just over a month after Congress was besieged by crowds falsely claiming the presidential election was “stolen” by Democrats.

A single impeachment article against the one-term Republican president, and passed by the House last month, argued that Mr Trump incited an insurrection on the Capitol by encouraging a crowd to march on the building with “strength”, prior to the assault on 6 January.

“This isn’t a waste of time. It’s a matter of accountability,” wrote Mr Kinzinger, who was among 10 Republicans that voted to impeach Mr Trump, and warned on Monday that “the chaos of the past few months, and the past four years, could quickly return” without conviction.

“Impeachment offers a chance to say enough is enough,” the Republican wrote. “It ought to force every American, regardless of party affiliation, to remember not only what happened on Jan 6, but also the path that led there.”

Conviction by the Senate – despite many in the party condemning Mr Trump after the Capitol riot – remains a remote possibility after 45 Republicans voted to dismiss the trial altogether last week.

The vote, which did not pass, was tabled by pro-Trump Republican senator Rand Paul, who afterwards called the impeachment process as being “dead on arrival” to the Senate.

Mr Kinzinger went on to argue in the Washington Post op-ed that “The future of our party and our country depends on confronting what happened – so it doesn’t happen again.”

“The situation could get much, much worse – with more violence and more division that cannot be overcome,” he added. “The further down this road we go, the closer we come to the end of America as we know it. The Republican Party I joined as a young man would never take that road.”

The congressman also accused “many Republicans” who have “continued to feed anger and resentment among the people” and still “refused to admit what happened” after the presidential election, when Mr Trump wrongly alleged the contest was “rigged”.

The trial against Mr Trump is expected to conclude in about a week’s time, after proceedings begin on Tuesday.