House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, speaking two days after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol incursion, dismissed invoking the 25th Amendment against then-President Donald Trump because it “takes too long” and told colleagues he wanted “to reach out to” Democrat Joe Biden, according to a leaked audio recording.
The Jan. 8, 2021, recording was obtained by Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, reporters for The New York Times, and provided to CNN and others. Martin and Burns wrote a recently published book titled “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future” that contained a treasure trove of insider conversations.
“What the president did is atrocious and totally wrong,” McCarthy told GOP leaders in the recording. “From the standpoint, we’re 12 days away — I mean the one point I’d make with Biden — if you have an impeachment and you’re stuck sitting in the Senate and he needs Cabinet members, he’s got secretary of defense, he’s got a lot of things he’s got to have moving …”
“I do think the impeachment divides the nation further and continues the fight even greater,” he said. “That’s why I want to reach out to Biden. I wanted the president to meet with Biden — but that’s not going to happen.”
The minority leader asked aide John Leganski for a readout of House Democrats’ internal discussions.
“I think the options that have been cited by the Democrats so far are the 25th Amendment, which is not exactly an elegant solution here,” Leganski said.
McCarthy said the 25th Amendment — which provides for the vice president to take the reins in a situation where the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” — “takes too long. It could go back to the House, right?”
“Correct,” Leganski replied. “If the president were to submit a letter overruling the Cabinet and the vice president, it’s a two-thirds vote in the House and the Senate to overrule the president. So it’s kind of inartful.”
BREAKING: In new leaked tapes, Kevin McCarthy discusses Trump’s removal under the 25th Amendment, worries that it would not be an ‘elegant solution’ because it ‘takes too long.’ McCarthy also expresses interest in speaking with Biden about the transition. pic.twitter.com/5fKfM7MoxV
— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) May 4, 2022
This new recording of the California Republican comes on the heels of several others obtained by Martin and Burns, including one from a Jan. 10, 2021, conference call with GOP leaders in which they discuss the Democrats’ plan to impeach Trump.
McCarthy told his colleagues he planned to call the president to recommend that he resign from office, which would have put then-Vice President Mike Pence in the Oval Office.
“Now, this is one personal fear I have. I do not want to get into any conversation about Pence pardoning [Trump]. Again, the only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you [should] resign.”
NEWS: @maddow has audio of Kevin McCarthy saying privately after Jan. 6 that he expects impeachment to pass and was considering asking Donald Trump to resign.
Here’s the tape 👇 pic.twitter.com/hXmz2X9RqA
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) April 22, 2022
The Times reported several additional McCarthy quotes from that same phone call that were not included in the audio clip.
The minority leader reportedly said, “What he [Trump] did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it.”
Moreover, McCarthy called for Twitter and Facebook to suspend the accounts of GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and others who promoted the narrative of a stolen election, according to the Times.
“We can’t put up with that,” he reportedly said. “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?”
McCarthy put out a statement on April 21 calling the report “totally false and wrong.”
“It comes as no surprise that the corporate media is obsessed with doing everything it can to further a liberal agenda,” he said. “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?
“The past year and a half have proven that our country was better off when President Trump was in the White House and rather than address the real issues facing Americans, the corporate media is more concerned with profiting from manufactured political intrigue from politically-motivated sources.
“Our country has suffered enough under failed one-party Democrat rule and no amount of media ignorance and bias will stop Americans from delivering a clear message this fall that it is time for change.”
My statement on the New York Times pic.twitter.com/PWi2WkoWzh
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) April 21, 2022
According to CNN, Burns stood by his reporting, saying, “We are 1,000 percent confident in our sourcing on that comment.”
McCarthy planned to ask Trump to resign.
McConnell cheered Dems for impeaching “son of a b****” Trump.
Both men talked 25th Amendment.
— Brianna Keilar (@brikeilarcnn) April 21, 2022
It is likely Republicans will take back the House majority in November, and McCarthy is widely expected to become the next speaker. These recordings should have House Republicans thinking twice about that.
McCarthy has shown his true colors. This is not what leadership looks like.
After four years of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Republicans will finally have an opportunity to hold Democrats accountable for their egregious abuses of power.
We need a speaker who will seize that moment. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio comes to mind. Also Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana.
It appears the only moments McCarthy seizes are those that benefit his own advancement.
Following the report last month, The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake wrote that McCarthy’s “prevailing ideology is not so much ‘conservatism’ or ‘Trump,’ as ‘whatever it takes to get past this thing.” And I think that’s a pretty accurate portrayal.
The last time Republicans controlled the House, they elected Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as speaker. Although Ryan made it clear at the time that he did not want the role, he was elected anyway.
His antipathy toward Trump was unknown. The former president has blamed Ryan for not pushing his agenda harder in Congress.
Although we’ll never be able to confirm whether that’s true, the GOP held the House, the Senate and the presidency for two years and should have accomplished more.
Let’s not squander the opportunity again.
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