Kevin McCarthy’s call for Donald Trump to resign over January 6th may sink his Speakership hopes: report

Kevin McCarthy’s call for Donald Trump to resign over January 6th may sink his Speakership hopes: report

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is almost certain to be reelected to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms, as he is in one of the few congressional districts in California that still leans Republican. But whether or not McCarthy will become House speaker if Republicans regain the House remains to be seen. Politico, in a Playbook column published on April 22, grapples with how some bombshell reporting from Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns of the New York Times could affect McCarthy’s chances of becoming House speaker if Republicans retake that branch of Congress.

Martin and Burns, whose new book, “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America's Future,” is due out in early May, obtained audio of a January 10, 2021 phone conservation in which McCarthy can be heard telling Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming that then-President Donald Trump should resign. The Capitol insurrection had occurred four days earlier, and McCarthy was obviously furious with Trump.

But McCarthy later flip flopped, opposing Trump’s impeachment and turning against Cheney in a big way. McCarthy has been a staunch defender of Trump in the Biden era; on January 10, 2021, however, he wanted Trump to resign. During that conversation, McCarthy and Cheney even discussed the possibility of removing Trump from office via the U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment.

McCarthy has shamelessly claimed that Martin and Burns’ reporting was “totally false and wrong.” But on Thursday night, April 21, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow played the recording of that January 10, 2021 conversation on her show. The audio made it clear that Martin and Burns’ reporting was the opposite of “totally false and wrong” — it was spot on — and in the days right after the January 6, 2021 insurrection, McCarthy was hardly the Trump apologist he is now.

In Politico Playbook, journalists Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels and Ryan Lizza describe Martin and Burns’ reporting as “one stunner of a scoop.”

“For years now, through controversy after controversy, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has bent over backward to stay in former President Donald Trump’s good graces, all to serve one major purpose: He wants to be speaker someday,” the Politico reporters explain. “That hope may have just blown up on the launchpad…. On January 10, 2021…. McCarthy is heard clearly and unambiguously saying that Trump should resign.”

If the 2022 midterms are anything like the red waves of 1994 and 2010, Republicans will have a House majority in 2023 — although McCarthy won’t necessarily be House speaker.

Bade, Daniels and Lizza write, “The big question now: Is McCarthy toast? We made a bunch of calls to top Republicans both on and off the Hill.”


Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, talking to Politico, dismissed the January 10, 2021 recording as a “nothingburger.” But a Republican senior aide, interviewed on condition of anonymity, told Politico that McCarthy has a “trust” issue — adding, “He’s a bald-faced liar who literally just has no problem completely lying. And that doesn’t sit well with members.”

Another anonymous Politico source, described as a “senior GOP lawmaker,” told the publication that House Republicans may be forgiving of McCarthy.

“Thank God my private conversations weren’t recorded after January 6,” that source commented. “We were all very emotional.”

Bade, Daniels and Lizza stress that a major factor in McCarthy’s quest to become House speaker will be how “Trump himself” responds to the January 10, 2021 recording — a recording in which, they note, the House minority leader “essentially conspires with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) about how to get Trump to step down as president after the January 6 insurrection.”

“All it would take is one wink and nod from the former president, and McCarthy would have serious problems getting the gavel,” the Politico reporters write. “The former president has turned against those he views as (disloyal) Republicans for less. He recently unendorsed Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks’ Senate bid because Brooks — who backed his efforts to overturn the election — said it was time for Republicans to move on from relitigating 2020. Will Trump view McCarthy’s sin as worse? And if so, does he withhold his support for ‘My Kevin,’ as he once called him, in his bid for speaker?”

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