Deputy Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, told Republican lawmakers in the days following the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, that former President Donald J. Trump had acknowledged that he had “some responsibility” for what had happened that day. new sound unveiled on friday.
The sound from The New York Times is part of a series of revelations about the private convictions of Republican leaders, Mr. Trump, in the days after his supporters attacked the Capitol.
Mr McCarthy’s claim would be the clearest indication so far that Mr Trump may have admitted a degree of guilt for the deadly crowd. The revelation comes at a time when congressional investigators are looking for evidence of Mr. Trump’s involvement in his supporters’ failed attempt to block official confirmation of his 2020 election loss.
“Let me be very clear to all of you, and I have said it very clearly to the President: He is responsible for his words and deeds,” McCarthy said during a conference call to Republicans in the House of Representatives on January 11. “No, if, or but.”
“I asked him personally today: Is he responsible for what happened?” said Mr McCarthy. “Does she feel bad about what happened? He told me that he had some responsibility for what had happened and would have to admit it. “
Mr Trump did not respond to a request for comment, but said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday that Mr McCarthy’s claim that he had accepted some responsibility for the attack was “untrue.”
The record of the meeting was obtained in a report for the forthcoming book “This Won’t Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future.” The book, which details several private conversations between Republicans who derisively talk about the former president, quickly became a disgrace and a potential political problem for Mr. McCarthy.
The Times reported on Thursday that Mr McCarthy told his team leader that he would call Mr Trump and ask him to quit. McCarthy said he would tell Mr Trump about the impending resolution on impeachment: “I think it will work, and it would be my recommendation that you resign.”
Mr McCarthy called the report “completely untrue and incorrect” on Thursday, but the allegations were quickly refuted when The Times released a call record a few hours later. He repeated the lie on Friday and told reporters in Ridgecrest, California, “I never thought he should resign.”
The revelation of Mr. McCarthy’s dishonesty comes at a crucial moment in the long-planned rise of the 57-year-old Republican leader to power. The Californian is widely expected to become the next Speaker of the House if Republicans take control of the chamber after the mid-term elections, a result that strategists on both sides consider highly likely. However, he has long faced questions about his ability to run the unruly, ideologically fragmented flock of lawmakers who make up the Republican House of Representatives’ conference.
These lawmakers turned to Mr. Trump on Friday to guide his response. Mr. Trump and Mr. McCarthy spoke Thursday night about an interview first reported by The Washington Post.
In private, Mr. Trump enjoyed watching Mr. McCarthy’s misfortune, according to four people who spoke to him about the episode and asked for anonymity so they could discuss private conversations. In his view, the fact that Mr. McCarthy never asked him to resign and instead reaffirmed his allegiance only illustrated how the former president had squeezed his party, they said.
“I think it’s all a big compliment, honestly,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal.
The former and possibly future Republican standards holder often privately rejected Mr. McCarthy. And for Mr. Trump’s purposes, this could be useful if Mr. McCarthy continued as the Republican leader in the House of Representatives – but as a weakened figure even more closely dependent on Mr. Trump’s consent.
Mr. McCarthy is already a fragile figure at the House of Representatives’ top Republican conference, which the various factions of the party embrace out of comfort rather than relentless loyalty. Yet few lawmakers have used the moment to criticize him on Friday.
“He has broad support from the conference,” said Deputy Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a former member of the GOP leadership.
However, many lawmakers, lobbyists and advisers in Washington were surprised by Mr McCarthy’s negligence, disapproving, if not outright, the idea that he would definitely deny the comments he made in a group setting.
Consequences of Capitol Riot: Key Events
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Signs of progress. A federal investigation into the January 6 attack seems to be gaining momentum. The Department of Justice has invited a respected new prosecutor to help with the investigation, while a high-ranking witness – far-right broadcaster Alex Jones – is looking for an immunity agreement to provide information.
Weighing the change in the law on the uprising. On January 6, some lawmakers in the House Committee began discussions to rewrite the Rebellion Act in response to the events that led to the unrest in the Chapter House. The law currently gives presidents the power to deploy an army to respond to the uprising, and some fear it could be abused by a president trying to instigate the uprising.
Criminal proceedings. The House panel split over whether former President Donald J. Trump would file a criminal complaint with the Department of Justice, even though he concluded he had ample evidence to do so. The debate focuses on whether the recommendation would fail by politically tarnishing the expanding federal investigation.
Ongoing electoral doubts. More than a year after they tried and failed to use Congress’ final vote on January 6 to reverse the election, some of Trump’s allies are pushing false legal theories to “decertify” the 2020 vote and continue to incite the false narrative that has resonated. for Mr Trump’s supporters.
Even his allies were concerned about how briskly Mr. McCarthy had ignored the truth.
“Either you say you don’t remember the conversation, or you don’t talk about private conversations and you’re disappointed by those who betrayed them,” said Oklahoma’s Tom Cole, who said he didn’t think Mr. McCarthy was dangerous.
Mr McCarthy made the remarks in the chaotic days of the attack as he planned the way forward with the team, trying to calm Republicans panicked about the potential political impact.
“I know it’s not fun, I know it’s not great.” “I don’t want to rush things, I want everyone to have all the necessary information,” said Mr McCarthy, according to an audio clip from a meeting with a small group of lawmakers on January 10th. “I had it with that guy.” What he did is unacceptable. No one can defend it, and no one should defend it. “
The next day, as he spoke to a larger group, Mr. McCarthy seemed to be trying to reassure Republicans that Mr. Trump understood the seriousness of the moment and could come out amicably. It is difficult to estimate the accuracy of Mr McCarthy’s statement about Mr Trump.
In the 15 months since the attack, Mr. Trump has largely sought to avert criticism when asked in public about his role. Earlier this month, he told The Washington Post that House Speakers Nancy Pelosi and Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, were to blame for failing to secure the Capitol.
In this interview, Mr. Trump revealed that he wanted to march to the Capitol on January 6.
“The Secret Service said I couldn’t go,” he said. “I’d be there in a minute.”
This was not the first time Mr McCarthy had been completely truthful about his private remarks.
Earlier this year, he was asked at a press conference to make a phone call with Republicans from the House of Representatives after the attack. He avoided the question, “I’m not sure what kind of call you’re talking about.”
Maggie Haberman contributed a report.