House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy told colleagues he would ask then-President Donald Trump to resign in the days after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, according to audio released by the New York Times late Thursday.
McCarthy’s plans were first reported as part of an upcoming book from Times reporters Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin.
Earlier in the day, before the audio was released, McCarthy denied he ever planned on asking Trump to resign, calling the Times’ reporting “totally false and wrong.” McCarthy’s spokesman, Mark Bednar, also had denied it, telling the Times: “McCarthy never said he’d call Trump to say he should resign.”
But the Times posted audio — which also was aired on MSNBC — on Thursday night of a phone call between McCarthy and House Republican leaders in which he said just that.
On the audio, McCarthy and Rep. Liz Cheney are heard discussing a 25th Amendment resolution — which could have removed Trump from office — in the Jan. 10, 2021, call.
Cheney can be heard asking McCarthy is he thinks there’s any chance Trump would resign.
“My gut tells me no,” McCarthy replies. “I’m seriously thinking of having that discussion with him tonight.”
Discussing the Democrats’ efforts to impeach Trump, McCarthy is heard saying he planned on calling Trump and telling him: “It would be my recommendation you should resign.”
He admitted Trump was unlikely to follow that advice. “What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it,” McCarthy said later in the call, according to the Times.
McCarthy apparently never went through with his plan.
According to the Times, McCarthy is also heard on the call saying he wished Twitter TWTR, +0.77% would ban some Republican lawmakers, without naming names.
According to the book, McCarthy told Republican lawmakers: “I’ve had it with this guy,” referring to Trump. The book said McCarthy and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell both blamed Trump for the Capitol siege, and intended on driving him out of politics, only to back away because they feared backlash from Trump’s supporters, and Trump himself.
In the past year-plus, McCarthy has distanced himself from his criticism of Trump, cozied up with the former president and has refused to cooperate with the House Jan. 6 investigation.
“We have a lot more tape from this period,” the Times’ Martin told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC on Thursday night. “It is sensitive, it is delicate, and we have it all on tape.”