Former President Donald Trump says his connection with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was not damaged by the release of a call that showed McCarthy saying he would recommend Trump step down from office if impeached after the riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he was not happy when he learned of McCarthy’s comments, which were made on a call with colleagues. But McCarthy never advised him to resign, Trump also said, alleging McCarthy shifted his view “when he found out the facts.”
“I think it’s all a big compliment, frankly,” Trump said of McCarthy and others who later came to back him. “They realized they were wrong and supported me.”
The ex-president declined to say whether he supports McCarthy for speaker. Republicans hope to flip the lower chamber in the upcoming midterm elections, and McCarthy is currently the top-ranking Republican in the House.
McCarthy has not responded to requests for comment on the call.
The New York Times initially reported on what the minority leader said during the Jan. 10, 2021, meeting, prompting McCarthy to describe the reporting “totally false and wrong.”
The paper then released audio of the call.
McCarthy told a reporter on Friday night that he “never asked the president to resign” and that he “just walked through different scenarios” on the call.
He also said he stood by his earlier statement, in which he also said that President Joe Biden’s time in office has “proven that our country was better off when President Trump was in the White House.”
“Rather than address the real issues facing Americans, the corporate media is more concerned with profiting from manufactured political intrigue from politically-motivated sources,” he added.
In the wake of the Capitol breach, McCarthy on Jan. 13, 2021, said Trump “bears responsibility” for what happened, alleging that the former president “should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.” He floated censuring Trump, rather than impeaching him.
McCarthy voted against the impeachment. Trump ended up being acquitted by the Senate after he left office.
On Jan. 21, 2021, McCarthy told reporters that Trump did not “provoke” the crowd in Washington, “if you listened to what he said at the rally.”
Trump urged supporters before the breach to “fight like hell” but also told them to remain peaceful when they marched to the Capitol. After the breach, he called for people to leave the building.
About a week after McCarthy’s briefing, the minority leader traveled to meet with Trump in Florida. Trump’s political action committee said the meeting was “good and cordial” while McCarthy said Trump “committed to helping elect Republicans in the House and Senate in 2022.”
Joseph Lord and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.