AP

Audio: McCarthy said he would urge Trump to resign

Apr 21, 2022, 8:18 PM | Updated: 9:34 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy told fellow GOP lawmakers shortly after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection that he would urge then-President Donald Trump to resign, according to audio posted Thursday night by The New York Times and aired on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show.

In the recording of a Jan. 10 House Republican Leadership call, McCarthy is heard discussing the Democratic effort to remove Trump from office and saying he would tell Trump, “I think it will pass and it would be my recommendation he should resign.”

It’s unclear whether McCarthy, who is in line to become House speaker if Republicans gain control during the fall midterm elections, followed through on his thinking or was merely spit-balling ideas shared privately with his colleagues in the aftermath of the deadly Capitol assault.

In the same conversation, McCarthy told his colleagues he doubted Trump would take the advice to step aside.

“That would be my recommendation,” McCarthy is heard saying in response to question from Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who would emerge as a staunch Trump critic. “I don’t think he will take it, but I don’t know.””

Earlier Thursday, after the Times published its initial story describing the conversation, McCarthy released a statement calling it “totally false and wrong.” His spokesman, Mark Bednar, had told the paper, “McCarthy never said he’d call Trump to say he should resign.”

Bednar did not immediately respond to questions late Thursday night after the audio’s release. Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the tape.

The audio threatens to badly damage the relationship between McCarthy and Trump, who remains the most popular figure in the Republican Party, despite his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection and his refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election. And it could threaten McCarthy’s standing with House Republicans aligned with Trump, whose support he will need for votes to become House speaker next year.

The audio depicts a very different McCarthy than the one who has been leading House Republicans over the last year and a half and who has remained allied with Trump even after delivering a speech on the House floor shortly after Jan. 6, during which he called the attack on the Capitol “un-American.” At the time, McCarthy called the assault among the saddest days of his career and told his fellow Republicans that Trump “bears responsibility” for the violence.

Even after the violence, though, McCarthy joined half of the House Republicans in voting to challenge Joe Biden’s election victory.

Since then, the California Republican has distanced himself from any criticism of Trump and has avoided directly linking him to what happened. Within weeks of the siege at the Capitol McCarthy said he did not think Trump provoked the attack, as other prominent Republicans said at the time.

Instead, McCarthy has cozied up to Trump, visiting him at the former president’s Florida residence at Mar-a-Lago as he relies on the former president’s brand for campaign support this fall.

McCarthy indicated during an interview with The Associated Press this week in California that Trump will motivate voters to turn out for the party in this fall’s midterm elections.

“He’ll motivate, get a lot of people out,” McCarthy said at a GOP event in Fresno.

The Times report Thursday was adapted from an upcoming book, ” This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future,” by Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns.

In the audio, Cheney, who eventually lost her No. 3 leadership position after voting in favor of Trump’s impeachment, can be heard asking McCarthy about a 25th Amendment resolution calling for Trump’s ouster and whether Trump might resign.

“I’ve had a few discussions. My gut tells me no. I’m seriously thinking of having that conversation with him tonight,” McCarthy is heard saying. “What I think I’m gonna do is I’m gonna call him.”

“I think it will pass and it would be my recommendation he should resign,” he later adds. “I mean, that would be my take but I don’t think he would take it. But I don’t know.”

McCarthy, 57, has been strategically charting his own delicate course as he positions himself to try to take over as speaker if Republicans retake the House. He has begun to build out his leadership team and last summer tasked several groups of Republican lawmakers with drafting proposals on the party’s core legislative priorities in hopes of making a fast start in 2023.

But even as he inches closer to leading the chamber, McCarthy is well aware of the downside of power in recent months as hard-right members of the conference have created headaches with inflammatory actions and statements.

There was little immediate reaction Thursday night from fellow Republicans who could determine his future.

To be sure, no other Republican leader in the House has amassed the standing to challenge McCarthy for the leadership position.

McCarthy has recruited the class of newcomers bolstering GOP ranks and raised millions to bolster Republican campaigns. He has drawn his closest rivals into the fold even as he works to shore up the votes that would be needed to become speaker.

An outside group aligned with McCarthy has led fundraising ahead of the midterm elections, and rank-and-file Republicans working to regain the House majority are unlikely to be critical of the leader ahead of November.

Still, McCarthy has also been a person of interest for the House committee investigating the storming of the Capitol on Jan 6. The select committee, which Cheney vice-chairs, requested an interview with McCarthy in mid-January, hoping to learn more about his conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the riot.

They had also sought information about McCarthy’s communications with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in the days before the attack. Hours after the request was made, McCarthy issued a statement saying he would refuse to cooperate because he saw the investigation as not legitimate and accused the panel of “abuse of power.”

The committee has been especially focused on McCarthy’s communications with Trump and White House staff in the week after the violence, including a conversation with Trump that was reportedly heated.

Without his cooperation, it remains unclear whether the panel will be able to gain testimony from McCarthy or any other congressional allies of Trump. While the committee has considered subpoenaing fellow lawmakers, they have so far avoided doing so as it would be an extraordinary move and could run up against legal and political challenges.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

3 hours ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

1 day ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

8 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

9 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

11 days ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Audio: McCarthy said he would urge Trump to resign