House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was given a standing ovation by fellow House Republicans Wednesday morning after he defended his comments on tapes released by The New York Times.
‘He’s widely supported. Will be speaker,’ one source in the room told The Washington Post.
CNN’s Melanie Zanona reported that McCarthy told colleagues that he was just floating scenarios when he told Republican leadership during a January 10 call that former President Donald Trump should resign.
McCarthy and his allies were also caught complaining about the rhetoric used by fellow GOP lawmakers including Reps. Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Lauren Boebert and Barry Moore during a private phone call in the days following the January 6 Capitol attack.
On Tuesday, The New York Times released fresh audio clips of McCarthy on the call with Scalise, then-House Republican Conference Chair Cheney, Rep. Tim Emmer and a handful of Congressional aides, where he relayed his fears that remarks by a vocal fringe minority could lead to violence.
‘Tension is too high, the country is too crazy,’ McCarthy warned on the January 10 call. ‘I do not want to look back and think we caused something or we missed something and someone got hurt. I don’t want to play politics with any of that.’
The Washington Post also reported that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was also briefly brought up on the call, said at the meeting Wednesday morning that Scalise needed to apologize for his remarks.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was given a standing ovation by House Republicans Wednesday after he defended his comments on tapes released by The New York Times. Here he’s captured leaving the Republican National Committee where the meeting was held
McCarthy was caught on tape discussing former President Donald Trump’s (left) future after the January 6 Capitol attack. In audio released by The New York Times, McCarthy suggests that Trump should resign
Both House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (left) and Rep. Liz Cheney (right), who at the time was the GOP Conference Chair, were on the call in question. Audio released Tuesday night caught them discussing some of their GOP colleagues’ controversial rhetoric
In one clip from the call, McCarthy is heard discussing comments Gaetz made on Newsmax, where he went after fellow Republicans for being ‘anti-Trump.’
One of the Republicans Gaetz was critical of was Cheney, who blasted the outgoing president after the January 6 insurrection.
‘This is serious stuff people are doing that has to stop,’ the top House Republican grumbled, mentioning briefings he was receiving from the FBI.
‘I’m calling Gaetz, I’m explaining to him, I don’t know if I have much to say, but I’m going to have some other people call him too,’ McCarthy continued. ‘This is serious s**t, to cut this out.’
Scalise pushed that ‘it’s potentially illegal what he’s doing.’
‘Well, he’s putting people in jeopardy,’ McCarthy said. ‘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.’
Scalise, the House’s No. 2 Republican, also pointed to comments made by Brooks and Rep. Louie Gohmert, including how Brooks said at the ‘Save America’ rally before the Capitol Attack that ‘today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.’
‘You got the Maxine Waters and all that stuff too, I know the Dems are in a very strong positions to drive a lot of things, but our members have got to start paying attention to what they say too, we can’t put up with that type of s**t,’ McCarthy said.
In the past, Republicans have gone after Waters, a California Democrat, for some of her rhetoric.
‘You think the president deserves to be impeached for his comments? That’s almost something that goes further than what the president said,’ McCarthy said of Brooks’ ‘kicking ass’ line.
McCarthy and GOP leaders discussed comments Rep. Mo Brooks (left) made at the ‘Save America’ rally in the hours before the January 6 Capitol attack and things Rep. Matt Gaetz (right) said about ‘anti-Trump’ Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney
On the call, Rep. Liz Cheney brought up Rep. Lauren Boebert (pictured), pointing out that she had tweeted members’ movements during the January 6 attack.
On the call, Cheney brought up Boebert, pointing out that she had tweeted members’ movements during the January 6 attack.
McCarthy asked if Greene – often linked to Boebert over their shared, now disavowed, interest in QAnon – had been a speaker at former President Donald Trump’s ‘Save America’ rally.
McCarthy is also told about tweets made from Moore.
‘Wow, we have more arrests for stealing a podium on January 6 than we do for stealing an election on November 3, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit would be places I’d reccomend you start,’ Moore wrote before deleting his personal Twitter account.
On the death of capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt he commented, ‘I understand it was a black police officer who shot the white female veteran.’
‘You know that doesn’t fit the narrative,’ the Alabama Republican tweeted.
McCarthy was also told about tweets sent out by Rep. Barry Moore (pictured) including on the death of Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt. ‘I understand it was a black police officer who shot the white female veteran. You know that doesn’t fit the narrative,’ Moore wrote
After Moore’s tweets were read aloud on the call, both McCarthy and Cheney are heard murmuring, ‘wow.’
‘Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?’ McCarthy then said.
The sound bites released Tuesday were from the same call in which McCarthy told GOP leadership he’d tell Trump to resign – comments he continues to deny, despite the recording being released publicly.
The January 10 call was revealed by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, in a preview of their new book, This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future.
The comments prompted January 6 House select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson to announce Tuesday that the panel would issue ‘another invitation’ to McCarthy to testify.
Then the Democrat-led committee – which includes Republicans Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger – will decide whether to subpoena McCarthy and other Republicans, Punchbowl News said.
By Tuesday night Gaetz had already reacted to the new audio clips.
He lambasted McCarthy and Scalise as ‘weak men’ and blasted them for holding ‘sniveling calls with Liz Cheney.’
Gaetz in particular, McCarthy warned, was ‘putting people in jeopardy’ for labeling some lawmakers ‘anti-Trump’ in the immediate aftermath of the January 6 insurrection.
‘This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders,’ Gaetz said in a statement on Tuesday night.
‘While I was protecting President Trump from impeachment, they were protecting Liz Cheney from criticism. They deemed it incendiary or illegal to call Cheney and [GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger] “Anti-Trump,” a label both proudly advertise today.’
But in his Tuesday night statement Gaetz indicated he may not take any explanations from McCarthy seriously. He also suggested that it was the first time he heard the senior lawmakers’ comments, despite McCarthy stating on the recording that he would be ‘calling’ Gaetz.
‘Rep. McCarthy and Rep. Scalise held views about President Trump and me that they shared on sniveling calls with Liz Cheney, not us,’ the Florida lawmaker said.
He continued, ‘On the bright side, you no longer have to be a lobbyist with a $5,000 check to know what McCarthy and Scalise really think.’
‘You just have to listen to their own words as they disparage Trump and the Republicans in Congress who fight for him.’
But aside from some vocal dissent, McCarthy by and large appears to have the support of his colleagues to lead them next year – which, if Republicans take back Congress in November’s midterms, would make him Speaker of the House.
Rep. Jim Jordan, who like Gaetz is among Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress, vouched for the besieged leader.
‘I’m for Donald Trump being the next president and Kevin McCarthy being the next speaker,’ Jordan told Politico.
Another Republican lawmaker, Rep. Rodney Davis, told the outlet that ‘nobody’s talking about’ the leaked audio and that he was ‘excited’ for ‘McCarthy being the next speaker.’