McCarthy Speaks Out on Call With Trump During Capitol Riot

House minority leader wouldn't confirm GOP congresswoman's account of heated conversation
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2021 9:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – Kevin McCarthy confirmed Sunday that he did speak with then-President Trump on the phone during the peak of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, but it didn't seem to be the heated "shouting match" it was previously described as—at least not according to McCarthy's update. The Hill reports that the House minority leader appeared on Fox News Sunday opposite Chris Wallace, and the host asked McCarthy if he could confirm the account of GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who said she'd been briefed by McCarthy on that call. Per the congresswoman's account, McCarthy went off on an expletive-laden tirade against Trump after the latter said to him during the call, referencing the rioters: "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are." That account showed some Republican lawmakers who heard about the call that "Trump had no intention of calling off the rioters, even as lawmakers were pleading with him to intervene," per CNN.

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McCarthy wouldn't confirm Herrera Beutler's account, instead noting to Wallace that Trump "didn't see" what was going on at the Capitol until their phone call, and that Trump ended the call by saying he'd "put something out to make sure to stop this." Wallace pointed out the "weak" video Trump did finally release was "quite a lot later," once again pressing McCarthy to confirm what Herrera Beutler said. McCarthy's response: "Listen, my conversations with the president are my conversations with the president." The New York Times paints McCarthy's response as a "dodge," with sources saying that McCarthy "knows better" and is "exasperated" by Trump's behavior—but also realizes he has to stay in Trump's good graces to help him become House speaker if the GOP takes control of the House in 2022. "This is the tightest tightrope anyone has to walk," McCarthy says, noting his former boss "goes up and down with his anger. ... He's mad at everybody one day. He's mad at me one day." (Read more Kevin McCarthy stories.)

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