House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, denied a New York Timesreport that said he'd told other lawmakers that he would call for then-President Donald Trump to resign in the days after January 6, 2021, the day Trump's supporters attacked the United States Capitol in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 general election.
McCarthy called the report “totally false and wrong" and a spokesperson pushed back on any reporting that he'd ever suggested he'd call for Trump to resign.
But an audio recording obtained by The Rachel Maddow Show tells a different story, showing that he did in fact tell his Republican colleagues on a call that he intended to advise Trump to resign.
You can hear the audio recording below.
As McCarthy can be heard saying on the call:
"The discussion I would have with him is that I think [impeachment resolution] will pass, and it would be my recommendation you resign."
McCarthy also admits that he doesn't think Trump will take his advice but says "I don't know," indicating that he, like so many others on either side of the political aisle, was unsure of how exactly Trump might respond to immediate criticisms of the role he played in the attack.
The audio recording reveals that not only did McCarthy say he'd call on Trump to resign but that he went so far as to inquire about the mechanism for invoking the 25th Amendment, which formally outlines the transition of power if the President is unable or unfit to serve.
A separate audio recording yields another revelation: that McCarthy claimed that Trump agreed that he bore some responsibility for the events of January 6, which resulted in five deaths, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
In fact, McCarthy claimed that Trump agreed that "he needs to acknowledge" publicly the extent of his responsibility for the attack, something which Trump has never done since leaving office.
McCarthy had claimed during an appearance on Fox News last year that Trump had pledged to stop the attack during a phone conversation as the attack was underway. McCarthy also said that Trump didn’t know about the attack until the call, but it’s well documented that Trump spent the day watching news coverage of the attack.
At the time, McCarthy said that when Trump ended the call, he'd said "he’ll put something out to make sure to stop this," failing to note that it took hours before Trump posted a video urging his supporters to stop the violence (and telling them he “loved” them).
But McCarthy has since dug in his heels and become known as one of Trump's more vociferous defenders, which caused many who heard the recording to slam him for hypocrisy.
The recording, which shows McCarthy had at least part of this discussion with Wyoming House Republican Liz Cheney, then the Republican Conference Chair, also underscores the sharpness of his about-face where January 6 is concerned.
Cheney angered her own party and was ousted from her leadership position in the House after she pushed back against Trump's falsehoods about the 2020 general election. Trump had issued a statement, more than three months after President Joe Biden took office, calling Biden's victory "the big lie."
Cheney responded shortly afterward with a statement of her own affirming that the election "was not stolen," adding that anyone who says it was is "turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system."
McCarthy has since denied that the successful effort to remove Cheney from her position as the House's third-ranking Republican is in any way related to her vote to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection against Congress.