'A material witness to a possible crime': Columnist calls out Kevin McCarthy aiding Trump's 'coverup'
This week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that he is refusing to testify before Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building. McCarthy went total MAGA in his statement, declaring, “This committee is not conducting a legitimate investigation…. I have concluded to not participate with this select committee’s abuse of power.”
Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent analyzes this development in his Thursday column, arguing that McCarthy’s refusal to testify amounts to an attempt to “cover up” for former President Donald Trump.
Sargent writes, “Let’s be clear: In refusing to testify to the House select committee examining January 6, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy may well be helping to cover up potential crimes committed by Donald Trump…. McCarthy’s refusal may be the most significant moment thus far in the wide-ranging effort by Trump allies to cover up his January 6-related corruption. That’s because McCarthy, who reportedly appealed to Trump as the violence unfolded, likely has some of the most direct knowledge available of Trump’s conduct as the mob rampage continued.”
McCarthy was vehemently critical of Trump following the Capitol insurrection and blamed him for the attack. But he later flip-flopped, railing against Pelosi’s committee and refusing to criticize the former president.
According to Sargent, McCarthy’s conversation with Trump on January 6, 2021 merit’s close examination from Pelosi’s committee.
“The true nature of what that conversation could tell us keeps getting lost,” Sargent observes. “It’s not just that it could reveal that Trump displayed extraordinary depravity and malevolence in ignoring numerous frantic pleas to call off the rioters. It’s also that this knowledge could reveal that Trump may have come to see the violence as instrumentally helpful to his cause of subverting the election’s outcome.”
Sargent adds, “You can see the importance of this in the select committee’s letter to McCarthy. In it, the committee notes that McCarthy screamed at Trump to call off the rioters. Trump reportedly replied: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’ The committee wants to know more about that.”
In its letter requesting testimony from McCarthy, the select committee was seeking his insights on “President Trump’s state of mind during the January 6th attack as the violence was underway.”
“Behind this anodyne language about Trump’s ‘state of mind’ lies something potentially very grave,” Sargent argues. “The committee plainly wants to know if Trump hinted or even somehow indicated to McCarthy — or others — that his calling off the rioters was in some way contingent on Republicans subverting or delaying the electoral count.”
The columnist discussed McCarthy’s relevance with Ryan Goodman, a law professor at New York University. Goodman told Sargent, “There’s no doubt that McCarthy is a material witness to a possible crime by the former president. His conversation with Trump during the height of the riot could provide direct evidence of Trump’s mindset and scheme.”
According to Goodman, “Trump’s greatest legal exposure is for the criminal obstruction of congressional proceedings, and McCarthy appears to have direct evidence that goes to the heart of what’s needed to prove that crime. Did Trump say anything that connected his unwillingness to call off the mob to his wanting Republican members of Congress to delay the certification? What’s already been reported about the two men’s conversation already comes very close to that being the implied message.”
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