kevin mccarthy

Kevin McCarthy Wanted Trump to Resign After January 6 and Then Lied About It

Kevin McCarthy and the Boss. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

It’s no big secret that a lot of congressional Republicans were horrified by the events of January 6, 2021, and Donald Trump’s role in making the Capitol riot happen. Party discipline and loyalty to the 45th president notwithstanding, watching violent yahoos bust through security and run through the hallowed halls of Congress you’ve worked so hard to inhabit had to be tough to take. It’s not surprising, then, that according to a new report from the New York Times, both of the GOP’s minority leaders, Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, reportedly told associates in the days following the siege that they believed Trump was responsible for what happened — and that they would end his political career because of it.

McConnell publicly blasted Trump for “a disgraceful dereliction of duty” immediately after the Senate impeachment trial ended, all but conceding the former president’s acquittal — which McConnell voted for — was on a technicality (the fact that he had already left office) and was in no way an exoneration for his “unconscionable” conduct.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a serial Trump brownnoser, also publicly decried Trump’s conduct at the time. But privately he went a lot further. Per the Times, McCarthy told a group of GOP leaders on January 10 that he would pressure Trump to immediately resign, exclaiming, “I’ve had it with this guy.”

McCarthy flatly denied the Times report, calling it “totally false and wrong” and the work of “corporate media” with a “liberal agenda.” Trouble is, the Times’ Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin have (and have now released) an audio recording of McCarthy’s comments. Worse yet, he was saying it to Liz Cheney, the then–House Republican caucus leader subsequently hounded out of leadership and scheduled for a primary purge for the RINO heresy of voting for Trump’s impeachment. From the transcript:

Cheney: Is there any chance? Are you hearing that he might resign? Is there any reason to think that might happen?

McCarthy: I’ve had a few discussions. My gut tells me no. I’m seriously thinking of having that conversation with him tonight. I haven’t talked to him in a couple of days. Um, from what I know of him, I mean, you guys all know him too. Do you think he’d ever back away? But what I think I’m going to do is I’m going to call him. This, this is what I think. We know [impeachment] will pass the House. I think there’s a chance it’ll pass the Senate, even when he’s gone. Um, and I think there’s a lot of different ramifications for that.

Now, I haven’t had a discussion with the Dems that if he did resign, would that happen? Now, this is one personal fear I have. I do not want to get into any conversation about Pence pardoning. Again, the only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass and it would be my recommendation you should resign. Um, I mean that would be my take. But I don’t think he would take it. But I don’t know.

McCarthy both having said he’d push Trump to resign and then getting caught lying about it nicely captures his weasel-like efforts to remain the leader of his caucus without offending Trump and his minions. And he got on the horn with Trump as soon as his lie was exposed. The Washington Post reports that, according to two anonymous sources familiar with the conversation, Trump “was not upset about McCarthy’s remarks and was glad the Republican leader didn’t follow through, which Trump saw as a sign of his continued grip on the Republican Party.”

But now more than ever, McCarthy’s political future is in Trump’s hands: One word from the Boss and he can forget about becoming Speaker if (as expected) Republicans get control of the House by a narrow margin following the midterms. The House Freedom Caucus would settle his hash in a heartbeat given the least encouragement.

The bottom line is that McCarthy is more beholden to Donald Trump and his most fanatical supporters (like inveterate troublemakers Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, and Andrew Clyde) than ever, which is bad news for the country if and when the GOP wins back the House.

Kevin McCarthy Caught in Lie About Wanting Trump to Resign