WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Audio released on Thursday confirms that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he was considering asking former President Trump to resign in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, according to a recording aired on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” and shared by reporters from The New York Times.
In the audio clip, which is also now included in the Times’ report on the matter, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) asks the House GOP leader if he was hearing that Trump might resign or had any reason to believe it could happen. Referring to the likelihood that Congress would impeach Trump, McCarthy says, “The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign. I mean, that would be my take but I don’t think he would take it. But I don’t know.”
In a lengthy statement issued earlier on Thursday in response to the Times’ reporting, before the audio was aired, McCarthy denied that he had ever said such a thing during a House leadership call on Jan. 10, 2021. The reporting is based on a forthcoming book by New York Times reporters Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin, titled “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future.”
”The New York Times’ reporting on me is totally false and wrong,” McCarthy said. “It comes as no surprise that the corporate media is obsessed with doing everything it can to further a liberal agenda. This promotional book tour is no different. If the reporters were interested in truth why would they ask for comment after the book was printed?”
According to the Times, Mark Bednar, a spokesperson for McCarthy, also pushed back against the reporting, saying, “McCarthy never said he’d call Trump to say he should resign.” The Hill has reached out to the offices of McCarthy and Cheney for comment.
The development comes months ahead of the November midterms, in which Republicans are seeking to regain majorities in the House and Senate. McCarthy is eyeing the House Speaker’s gavel if his party takes control of the lower chamber.
Days after the Capitol riot, McCarthy claimed in a public statement that “the president bears responsibility” for the insurrection, adding “these facts require immediate action from President Trump, accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President-elect Biden is successfully able to begin his term.”