But whatever he said, Kevin McCarthy’s not going to tell you about it!
Numerous news outlets have reported that then President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had a telephone screaming match when the then president refused to call off Capitol rioters.
Here is the substance of the alleged call in question (according to CNN):
In a call to Trump after the insurrectionists had breached the Capitol and were roaming the halls, offices and chambers, “McCarthy told Trump that the rioters were Trump supporters, and begged Trump him to call them off.”
“‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,’ Trump said, according to lawmakers who were briefed on the call by McCarthy and spoke to CNN.”
CNN went on, “McCarthy then furiously told Trump that rioters were breaking into his office through a window, snapping back, ‘Who the f— do you think you are talking to?'”
As of this writing, despite calls for McCarthy to come clean – either in a statement or perhaps in an appearance as a witness at the Trump impeachment trial – he has not come forward.
However, as this was unfolding, Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, Republican of Washington, recounted that Mr. McCarthy relayed his phone call with Trump to her. Representative Herrera Beutler’s statement has been entered into trial evidence
Since we will never hear from McCarthy himself about the substance of the call (nor the Trump/Tommy Tuberville call in which the senator told Trump that Vice President Pence was being evacuated to a safe location by the Secret Service and Capitol police, disavowing Trump’s defense that “he did not know” that Pence was in peril), I thought it would be instructive to give you an idea of McCarthy’s state of mind that informs his decision to stay silent.
This morning, as Day 5 of the trial was set to begin, Brendan Buck, a Republican consultant, and former chief communications advisor to former Speaker Paul Ryan, in response to a question from Stephane Ruhle of MSNBC as to “why wouldn’t Kevin McCarthy come out right now publicly and say here’s what happened on January 6th between President Trump and me?,” Buck replied:
“Because Keven McCarthy is trying to run a conference; that’s his number one priority. He’s trying to keep his conference together which is begin torn apart right now.”
When Ruhle then asked, “There is a big debate right now about what exactly happened on January 6th when murders took place, when a Capitol police officer was beaten to death, and the big question is did former President Trump stop this insurrection when he could have? Kevin McCarthy knows a lot of that information why wouldn’t he set the record straight?”
To which Buck responded:
“Because Kevin McCarthy has made a political calculation that it is in his interests to remain on the former president’s side. That is the political calculation that he had made and it works for him and the Republican conference where 99% of the members are die- hard Trump supporters…or at least their voters are. So to remain at the top of that conference, that’s the decision he made. He’s not going to cross Trump. It is House Republican conference politics that are driving a lot of his decisions.”
I don’t really have to unpack this, do I? But, just in case you missed it:
- After the biggest attack on our democracy in history, the most senior Republican in the House of Representatives, who was rebuffed by the President of the United States when he asked him to call of his supporters, won’t go public with that call because his number one priority is “trying to run his conference,” not the well-being of the Republic.
- “So to remain at the top of that conference, that’s the decision he made.
- “It’s a ‘political’ calculation that he made and it works for him.“
Yes, you cynics out there will say, why work yourself up? You knew all this; we all knew all this. And yes, you cynics, you’re correct. We all knew that political power and political self-interest trump (sorry) doing the right thing. Even more egregious, it supplants the solemn oath McCarthy took when he entered Congress:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
- “…against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
- “…bear true faith…”
- “…take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;”
So, Kevin McCarthy, based on both your actions and inactions, I award you the first Around the Block Dereliction of Duty Medal of Dishonor Award. May you carry this dishonor with you for the rest of your (hopefully short) political life.