House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy denied ever believing that President Donald Trump should resign in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol ― in spite of an audio recording in which he says the opposite.
Addressing the controversy for the first time Friday night, McCarthy told CBS News reporters in California that he never approached Trump with the suggestion he should resign, and added that he never thought it should happen, either.
“No, I’ve never asked the president to resign. Never thought he should resign,” McCarthy said Friday.
In the audio recording published by The New York Times, McCarthy can be heard clearly telling Republican leadership that he would call Trump and urge him to step down. He says in the recording that he believed a riot-related impeachment resolution would likely pass, and says he would tell Trump: “It would be my recommendation that you should resign.” The conference call between top Republicans took place Jan. 11, 2021.
The initial New York Times report on the call ― published Thursday ― did not include audio, and McCarthy dismissed it outright, calling it “totally false and wrong.” The paper then backed up its reporting by publishing the audio.
“I’ve had it with this guy,” McCarthy can be heard saying on the call, referring to Trump.
At another point, he says: “Let me be very clear to all of you, and I have been very clear to the president: He bears responsibilities for his words and actions. No if, ands or buts.”
McCarthy appears to be working behind the scenes to contain the controversy. A spokesman for McCarthy did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on Friday. In an interview published Friday night, Trump told The Wall Street Journal that his relationship with McCarthy remains “very strong.”
“I think it’s all a big compliment, frankly,” Trump told the Journal, because McCarthy and others in his party later “realized they were wrong.”
Speaking to reporters Friday night, McCarthy attempted to spin the blame for the deadly attack, claiming that his opinion of the riot changed after learning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supposedly blocked National Guard troops from responding to the scene ― which is not true.
“As we worked through this, and we learned days later that Nancy Pelosi has denied the National Guard there to be able to protect that Capitol. That made people much more upset,” he said falsely.