OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday denied that he asked then-President Donald Trump to step down immediately following the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol Building, but audio released later in the day appears to show that in fact, he did make such a request.
Thursday morning, The New York Times reported that the House GOP leader had considered calling on Trump to resign which led to McCarthy’s office issuing a blanket denial. But then, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow played an audio recording Thursday evening which led to doubts about the veracity of the California Republican’s claim.
“My gut tells me no,” McCarthy reportedly said during a private call with other GOP members in response to Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyoming) question about whether Trump would resign, according to audio aired on MSNBC. “I am seriously thinking about having that conversation with him tonight. I haven’t talked to him in a couple of days. From what I know of him, I mean you guys all know him, too, do you think he’d ever back away?
“We know it’ll pass the House, I think there’s a chance it’ll pass the Senate even when he’s gone. And I think there are a lot of different ramifications for that. … The only discussion I would have with him is I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation that he should resign,” McCarthy added in reference to an impeachment referral.
McCarthy:I’ve had it with this guy pic.twitter.com/lweFNbb7Y9
— Acyn (@Acyn) April 22, 2022
“That would be my take, but I don’t think he would take it,” McCarthy said. “But I don’t know.”
The Times added:
In the days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building, the two top Republicans in Congress, Representative Kevin McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell told associates they believed President Trump was responsible for inciting the deadly riot and vowed to drive him from politics.
Mr. McCarthy went so far as to say he would push Mr. Trump to resign immediately: “I’ve had it with this guy,” he told a group of Republican leaders, according to an audio recording of the conversation obtained by The New York Times.
Before the audio recording was released by Maddow, a spokesperson for McCarthy’s office told the Times: “McCarthy never said he’d call Trump to say he should resign.” In addition, McCarthy released a statement as well calling the Times’ report “totally false and wrong.”
“It comes as no surprise that the corporate media is obsessed with doing everything it can to further a liberal agenda,” McCarthy said. “This promotional book tour is no different. If the reporters were interested in truth why would they ask for comment after the book was printed?”
My statement on the New York Times pic.twitter.com/PWi2WkoWzh
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) April 21, 2022
“The past year and a half have proven that our country was better off when President Trump was in the White House and rather than address the real issues facing Americans, the corporate media is more concerned with profiting from manufactured political intrigue from politically-motivated sources,” he continued. “Our country has suffered enough under failed one-party Democrat rule and on amount of media ignorance and bias will stop Americans from delivering a clear message this fall that it is time for change.”
The leaked recording led Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to accuse Cheney of recording the conversation “for the New York Times” on Friday morning, adding a warning for McCarthy: “You should have trusted my instincts, not your own.”
While I was rallying in Wyoming against Liz Cheney…
Kevin McCarthy was defending Liz Cheney among House Republicans…
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) April 22, 2022
“While I was rallying in Wyoming against Liz Cheney…Kevin McCarthy was defending Liz Cheney among House Republicans,” he tweeted. “While Liz Cheney was secretly recording Kevin McCarthy for the New York Times.”
For her part, a spokesperson for Cheney denied she was the source of the leak.
“Representative Cheney did not record or leak the tape and does not know how the reporters got it,” the spokesman said.
The Daily Wire adds:
Cheney, a Republican who has found herself estranged from the rest of the party over her strong opposition to Trump and her seat on the Democrat-run January 6 commission, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Wire, but a Cheney spokesman told CNN that the House committee investigating the Capitol Riot “has asked Kevin McCarthy to speak with us about these events but he has so far declined.”