In Leaked Audio from Jan. 2021, Republican Kevin McCarthy Said Trump Should 'Resign'

In recent months, McCarthy has publicly defended the former president

Trump and Kevin McCarthy
Kevin McCarthy (L); Donald Trump (R). Photo: Getty Images (2)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is facing scrutiny after The New York Times on Thursday published audio of him talking about former President Donald Trump following the 2021 Capitol riots. In the clip, McCarthy contemplates urging Trump to resign, though he admits the former president would not likely take his advice.

"I'm seriously thinking of having that conversation with him tonight," McCarthy says in the clip, which was recorded Jan. 10, 2021, during a conversation between he and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney. "From what I know of him — I mean, you guys know him too — do you think he would ever back away?"

Just days prior to that conversation — on Jan. 6, 2021 — a group of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building, disrupting the joint session of Congress assembled to formalize then President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

Plan to impeach Trump for his role in allegedly inciting the violence quickly materialized by Democrats. Speaking to Cheney, McCarthy said he planned to talk to Trump about the looming impeachment.

"This is what I think: We know it'll pass the House [of Representatives], I think there's a chance it'll pass the Senate," McCarthy says on the tape. The Representative added that he would tell Trump, as Democrats pushed forward with plans to again impeach the president, that "it would be my recommendation you should resign."

McCarthy then adds: "I don't think he would take it but I don't know."

Elsewhere in the clip, McCarthy can be heard saying, "I've had it with this guy," speaking of Trump.

The Minority Leader also made clear on the audio that he did not want to "get in any conversation about Pence pardoning" Trump.

On Friday, the Times surfaced more audio of McCarthy, in which he said Trump "told me he does have some responsibility for what happened [at the Capitol] and he'd need to acknowledge that."

The recording surfaced just hours after McCarthy took to Twitter to deny that he had ever said he would urge Trump to resign, in response to reporting by Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, who wrote the forthcoming book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America's Future.

"The New York Times' reporting one me is totally false and wrong," McCarthy's statement, which was published prior to the recording's release, read. "It comes as no surprise that the corporate media is obsessed with doing everything it can to further a liberal agenda."

McCarthy added, "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," McCarthy wrote in the statement. "Rather than address the real issues facing Americans, the corporate media is more concerned with profiting from manufactured political intrigue from politically-motivated sources."

By Thursday evening, it was clear McCarthy had indeed spoken about a Trump resignation, as was made clear in the clip, which also aired on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC and included an interview with the authors on the book.

"We have a lot more on tape from this period ... it is sensitive, it is delicate, and we have it all on tape," Martin told Maddow. "It's going to tell a very different story about this period than the story that many people are trying to tell right now."

The Washington Post reported Friday that McCarthy and Trump had spoken by phone shortly after the audio clip publicly aired. The former president was reportedly not angry with McCarthy — though Democrats have criticized the House minority leader for being a "liar" and "spineless."

This Will Not Pass, which the Times says draws on hundreds of interviews with lawmakers and officials, will be published by Simon & Schuster May 3.

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