Audio Clip on Trump Appears to Contradict McCarthy's Claim

He talks about calling then-president after Capitol riot to recommend Trump resign
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2022 8:25 AM CDT

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy might be in some hot water politically over a newly released audio clip. On Thursday morning, the New York Times reported that McCarthy told other House GOP leaders a few days after the Capitol riot that he would call then-President Trump and encourage him to resign. After the story surfaced, McCarthy flatly denied he ever said such a thing. But on Thursday night, reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns released an audio clip to Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show from a Jan. 10 call between McCarthy and party leaders including Rep. Liz Cheney. (She had not been banished yet.) Some highlights, as excerpted by Axios:

  • Cheney: "Are you hearing that he might resign? Is there any reason to think that might happen?"
  • McCarthy: "My gut tells me no. I'm seriously thinking of having that conversation with him tonight. I haven't talked to him in a couple days. From what I know of him—I mean, you guys all know him, too. Do you think he'd ever back away? But what I think I'm going to do is, I'm going to call him. ..."
  • McCarthy: “The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass [referring to the impeachment resolution], and it would be my recommendation you should resign. I mean, that would be my take but I don’t think he would take it. But I don't know."
  • Other lines: The Times reports that on the nearly hourlong call, McCarthy also said of Trump, "I've had it with this guy" and “What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it.” Those lines are not in the 90-second audio clip.

  • Audio: You can listen to the clip via the Times link, or via this video from Maddow's show.
  • Trouble? The Hill notes that McCarthy is poised to become House speaker after the midterm elections, but this development could endanger that if Trump splits with him publicly, causing pro-Trump Republicans to buck McCarthy as well.
  • Response: McCarthy has not commented since the clip surfaced. After the story (without the audio clip) first appeared, a spokesman said McCarthy "never said he’d call Trump to say he should resign," per the Washington Post. McCarthy's office also said: "It comes as no surprise that the corporate media is obsessed with doing everything it can to further a liberal agenda. 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?" Reporters Martin and Burns detail all this in a soon-to-be-published book This Will Not Pass.
  • McConnell: The Times story says both McCarthy and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to be ready to break with Trump and try to push him out of politics in the immediate aftermath of the riot. "But within weeks both men backed off an all-out fight with Mr. Trump because they feared retribution from him and his political movement," per the story.
(More Kevin McCarthy stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.