WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy told other GOP lawmakers shortly after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection that he would urge then-President Donald Trump to resign, according to an audio recording posted Thursday night by The New York Times.
The Times reported that the audio was a recording of a Jan. 10 conversation among House GOP leaders in which they discussed the Democratic effort to impeach Trump.
McCarthy is heard telling the other lawmakers that he would tell Trump, “I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign.”
McCarthy also said: “What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it.”
Earlier Thursday, after the Times published a story describing the conversation, McCarthy released a statement calling it “totally false and wrong.”
The audio released late Thursday night depicts a very different McCarthy than the one who has been ruling over House Republicans in the last year and a half. The condemnation of Trump on the recording is also well beyond the speech McCarthy made on the House floor shortly after the insurrection, when he told his caucus that Trump “bears responsibility” for the violence that took place at the Capitol.
Since the attack, the California Republican has continued to distance himself from any criticism of Trump and has avoided ever directly linking him again to the attack. Instead, McCarthy has cozied up to Trump, visiting him at the former president’s Florida residence at Mar-a-Lago.
With Republicans likely take over the House next year, McCarthy has begun to build out his leadership team and set up task forces to address some of the core priorities for the party, which sees Trump as its current leader.
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. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow aired clips of the conversation on her program Thursday night.
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