When the House GOP leader swore he never talked about telling Trump to resign, what he meant was he 100% did exactly that.
It should go without saying that House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy is — as both a professional politician in general, and a Republican in the Trump era of his party in particular— completely full of shit. That he lies as easily as he breathes is hardly newsworthy in and of itself. Water wet, puppies cute, etc. What is notable, however, is how hilariously McCarthy’s latest lie was absolutely dismantled, live on TV, and how quickly his fellow conservatives have lined up to knife him and leave him metaphorically dead on the side of their road to personal and professional glory.
First, the accusation: This week, New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns revealed that in the heady, frantic days immediately following the Jan. 6 insurrection, McCarthy privately mused about recommending then-President Donald Trump resign from office ahead of a potential censure, rebuke, or full-blown removal from office by Congress. And, like clockwork, McCarthy immediately issued a full-throated denial of the allegations, stressing his sycophantic public obsequiousness to Trump, and claiming (in a rare instance of broken-clock syndrome) that the revelation was merely part of Burns and Martin’s “promotional book tour” for their just released This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America's Future.
Only — uh oh! Just hours after McCarthy emphatically slammed the Times’s “totally false and wrong” story, here come Burns and Martin with the audio of McCarthy doing the exact thing he said he didn’t do. Whoopsie!
In the call, McCarthy is heard strategizing with then-House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney on Jan. 10, telling her at one point that as Democratic efforts to launch an impeachment process moved forward, he would tell Trump that “I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign.”
Subsequent audio released Friday morning has McCarthy claiming that Trump had privately expressed some degree of ownership over the insurrection.
A few things to note here: First, it’s entirely unclear when, exactly, Burns and Martin learned of McCarthy’s post-insurrection remarks. Certainly long enough ago to include them in their book, which raises the perennial issue of high-profile journalists sitting on a significant news story and then waiting to release it as part of a book tour. In this, McCarthy is correct to note that this sucks! All it does is undercut — fairly, or not! — the sense of significance and urgency the authors want you to think this news has. So, there’s that.
More to the meat of the issue, though — boy does McCarthy come off looking like a duplicitous shitheel, right? Now the MAGA crowd can attack him for disloyalty to Dear Leader (they already are), Democrats can attack him for his obvious duplicity (they already are), and Liz Cheney can sit back and laugh at how badly he’s screwed himself as a sort of cosmic comeuppance for the fact that he oversaw her removal from GOP leadership (I can only assume she already is). This is what I imagine what the French would likely be calling “un clusterfuqe magnifique!”
In fact, the only person who seems to be okay with McCarthy is Trump himself, who reportedly spoke with the congressman last night, and allegedly obtained sufficient levels of sucking-up-to to appease his delicate ego. Which is to say, maybe getting caught on tape lying about an attempt to overthrow the government is enough of problem for Kevin that it could kill his political prospects ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. Or maybe, by threading the needle juuuuust enough to keep himself on Trump’s good side (for now), there’ll be more of that tried and true McCarthy bullshit still yet to come. Only time will tell!