The New York Times is out with more leaked audio of Kevin McCarthy talking with fellow House Republican leaders in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol riot. In these clips, McCarthy sounds angry at some far-right members of the House—particularly Matt Gaetz and Mo Brooks—for using language he considers dangerous and incendiary.
- On Gaetz: "He's putting people in jeopardy," McCarthy says of Gaetz. "And he doesn’t need to be doing this. We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know, and these people came prepared with rope, with everything else." McCarthy was especially irritated that Gaetz publicly called out GOP Rep. Liz Cheney for her statements critical of then-President Trump. Cheney, then a Republican leader, was on the call with McCarthy, as was Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican.
- Gaetz responds: After the article came out, Florida's Gaetz issued a scathing tweet calling McCarthy and Scalise "weak men," reports the Hill. "While I was protecting President Trump from impeachment, they were protecting Liz Cheney from criticism."
- Big picture: The lengthy Times story, embedded with multiple audio clips, reports that McCarthy discussed reining in the rhetoric of Gaetz and others (Reps. Lauren Boebert, Barry Moore, and Louis Gohmert are among those mentioned) because the country was "too crazy" at that moment. However, McCarthy ultimately did not do so, "opting instead to seek a political accommodation with the most extreme members of the GOP in the interests of advancing his own career," write Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin. They obtained the audio in reporting for their soon-to-be-released book, This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future.
- Brooks: On the call, the GOP leaders discuss Brooks' fiery speech to Trump supporters on the day of the riot. He told them to "fight like hell," adding that this was “the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” McCarthy's reaction to that line: "You think the president deserves to be impeached for his comments?” he asked the others rhetorically. "That’s almost something that goes further than what the president said.”
- Trouble brewing? The story, on top of the earlier one revealing that McCarthy pledged that he would call Trump and urge him to resign, adds to speculation that Trump loyalists might torpedo McCarthy's hopes of becoming House speaker should the GOP take the House in the midterms. Gaetz already has made his feelings known, and the Washington Post reports that Rep. Andy Biggs, a former leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, also has publicly raised doubts about McCarthy because of his comments on the calls about Trump. It's "a huge trust issue with me," he said.
(So far, Trump has not publicly chastised