A new audio clip of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s explosive conversation with a Republican lawmaker has revealed he was considering urging Donald Trump to step down in the days following the Capitol Hill violence, seemingly contradicting his denial published a few hours earlier.
In the audio, which was posted on The New York Times and airing on MSNBC Thursday night, Mr. McCarthy can be heard talking to Rep. Liz Cheney about his plans.
“The only discussion I would have with him is that I think [impeachment] will pass, and I would recommend that you resign,” Mr. McCarthy said on Jan. 10, 2021, in a phone call.
“That would be my opinion, but I don’t think he would accept it. But I don’t know,” he added.
The conversation was released hours after Mr. McCarthy released a lengthy statement on Thursday, flatly denying the NYT’s initial report on the call.
“The New York Times‘The reports about me are totally false and misguided,’ he said.
“It’s no surprise that the corporate media is obsessed with doing whatever it can to advance a liberal agenda. This promotional book tour is no different. If journalists were interested in the truth, why would they ask for comments after the book was printed?
Thursday’s report was based on passages from a forthcoming book This Won’t Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future by Time journalists Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns.
During the call, Ms. Cheney can be heard asking Mr. McCarthy about the possibility of Mr. Trump quitting.
“Do you hear that he might resign? Is there any reason to think this could happen? Ms. Cheney asks.
He replied that he “had a few talks” and planned to call Mr. Trump later that night, but doubted the ex-president would “ever go away”.
“This is what I think: we know it will go through the House. I think there’s a chance it will pass the Senate, even after he’s gone,” McCarthy said, apparently referring to an impeachment resolution.
At one point he also said, “What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it.
The reports come months before November’s midterm elections, in which Republicans expect to regain a majority in the House and Senate.
The development could also complicate Mr. McCarthy’s plans to become Speaker of the House if Republicans take control midway through November.
The condemnation of Mr. Trump in the recording goes far beyond the speech Mr. McCarthy gave in the House shortly after the uprising. He said at the time that Mr. Trump “bears responsibility” for the “attack on Congress by mob rioters” and “should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was happening.”
But since then, the California Republican has distanced himself from any criticism of Mr Trump and avoided linking him directly to the attack again.
Instead, he tried to get closer to Mr. Trump, visiting him at the former president’s Florida residence in Mar-a-Lago.
Additional reports by agencies