A new release from New York Times‘ political reporters Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin reveals never-before-heard audio recordings of a chat between House GOP Chairman Kevin McCarthy of California, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other Republican leaders following the events of the January 6, 2021, Capitol protests.
Although McCarthy initially criticized the Capitol “attack,” he's been an unwavering supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, both in front of the camera and in the press. But these conversations show his frustrations regarding how best to handle the aftermath of the January 6 attack and how to hold Trump responsible for his role in the incident.
The conversations were adapted from Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin's newest book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America's Future.
According to the New York Times report, in the weeks following the January 6 protests at the Capitol building, two of the most powerful Republicans in Congress, Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell, told their colleagues that they believed President Trump was responsible for provoking the deadly riot. They also pledged to remove him from politics.
McCarthy went as far as to claim he would insist that Trump resign immediately. “I've had it with this guy,” said McCarthy to a group of Republican leaders, as per audio recordings from the conversation obtained by the New York Times.
In a January 10, 2021, phone call with Cheney, McCarthy discussed the Democrats' demand for a second impeachment as well as the possible odds of the president quitting. Cheney asked whether McCarthy thought that the president would consider an invitation to resign in order to stay clear of impeachment. McCarthy said he was unsure about the idea but stated that he'd call the president and tell him “it would be my recommendation you should resign.”
The New York Times embedded the audio recordings of the phone conversation into the story. The new audio contradicts McCarthy's public appearance on January 6, when he strongly advocated for an inquiry into the Capitol protests. He then made an abrupt change of heart after House House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the addition of Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Indiana Rep. Jim Banks to the J-6 Commission. McCarthy has been vocally opposed to the Commission, refusing to appear before the panel.
Many Republicans and Trump supporters have expressed doubts regarding McCarthy's loyalty to Trump and his America First agenda. The conflict between Senator Mitch McConnell and Trump has been clearly and loudly displayed. McCarthy has walked a delicate line between remaining with favorable ties to the former president and working alongside McConnell to unify both the Republican message and goals in Congress.
McCarthy has set his sights on becoming Speaker of the House in the event that Republicans win back the House in the 2022 midterm elections. With this latest audio revealing McCarthy's thoughts toward the former president, as well as his inconsistent stance on issues that surrounded the 2020 election and January 6 protests, this could become a roadblock in his way.