A new audio clip reveals that House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy considered asking Donald Trump to resign as president in the immediate aftermath of the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
The explosive clip was released by the New York Times and played on MSNBC Thursday night, just half a day after McCarthy released a lengthy denial of an earlier Times report that said he and the Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, initially both held Trump responsible for the attack, and both privately expressed anger against him.
In the clip, which is a soundbite from a call with House GOP leaders, McCarthy can be heard answering a question from Republican representative Liz Cheney, who was in party leadership at the time. Cheney asked McCarthy if he believed Trump would resign if Congress successfully passed a 25th amendment resolution, which would declare Trump incapable of holding office.
“My gut tells me no. I am seriously thinking about having that conversation with him tonight,” he said. “The only discussion I would have with him is I think [the resolution] will pass, and it would be my recommendation that he should resign.
“That would be my take, but I don’t think he would take it. But I don’t know.”
In a statement on Thursday morning before the clip was released, McCarthy made a blanket denial of the New York Times report saying that it is “totally false and wrong”.
“It comes as no surprise that the corporate media is obsessed with doing everything it can to further the liberal agenda,” the statement read. “The corporate media is more concerned with profiting from manufactured political intrigue from politically-motivated sources.
“Our country has suffered enough under failed one-party Democrat rule, and no amount of media ignorance and bias will stop Americans from delivering a clear message this fall that it is time for change.”
McCarthy has not responded to the release of the audio clip. A spokesperson for Cheney, who is also heard on the clip, said she did not release the tape and does not know who leaked it.
The Times story, the reporting for which comes from the upcoming book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future, by reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, detailed scathing comments against Trump that Republican leaders made in the days after the Capitol uprising.
McCarthy reportedly told colleagues in private: “I’ve had it with this guy,” adding: “What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend it and nobody should defend it.”
Meanwhile, McConnell reportedly told two of his senior advisers: “If this isn’t impeachable, I don’t know what is.
“The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us,” McConnell said, according to the book.
Although McConnell criticized Trump publicly for his role in the attack, he voted to acquit the former president in his impeachment trial. He also said he would support Trump should Trump be the 2024 Republican nominee.
McCarthy, for his part, did a more complete about-face: he has claimed that Trump was unaware of the attack until McCarthy broke the news to him that it was happening. He has also condemned the special House panel that is investigating the insurrection and refused to cooperate with its inquiry on conversations he had with Trump after the attack.