Top two Republicans blamed Trump for Capitol attack, book says


In the days after the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, the two top Republican leaders in Congress, privately told associates that they believed Donald Trump should be held responsible for the attack.

A new report from the New York Times, the reporting for which comes from a forthcoming book by reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns called This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future, details private conversations that McCarthy and McConnell had with colleagues revealing the extent of their anger toward Trump.

“I’ve had it with this guy,” McCarthy reportedly told a group of Republicans in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

The leaders floated the idea of impeachment with their colleagues, though both men ultimately voted against holding Trump responsible in Democratic-led impeachment proceedings.

On a phone call with several top House Republicans, McCarthy allegedly said that Trump had been “atrocious and totally wrong” and blamed him for “inciting people”. He inquired about invoking the 25th amendment, which involves the removal of a president from office.

McCarthy, the book reports, went on to tell colleagues that his plan was to tell Trump to resign. “What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend it and nobody should defend it,” he said.

Other top Republicans chimed in supporting the idea of moving away from Trump, including Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who said that the party should think of a “post-Trump Republican House” and Tom Emmer of Minnesota, who brought up the possibility of censuring the president. Scalise and Emmer voted against Trump’s impeachment.

McCarthy also spoke of his wish that the big tech companies would de-platform Republican lawmakers, as Twitter and Facebook did with Trump following the insurrection, who had also played a role in stoking the insurrection.

“We can’t put up with that,” McCarthy said. “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?”

A spokesperson for McCarthy told the New York Times that McCarthy “never said that particular members should be removed from Twitter”.

Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican leaders in Congress. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

It appears that McCarthy and other top Republicans paid more heed to warnings that their Republican base would retaliate if House members publicly denounced Trump. Bill Johnson, a congressman from Ohio, told McCarthy that his voters would “go ballistic” if they criticized Trump.

“I’m just telling you that that’s the kind of thing that we’re dealing with, with our base,” Johnson reportedly said.

In a statement to the New York Times, a spokesperson for McCarthy said that he “never said he’d call Trump to say he should resign”.

Meanwhile, McConnell met with two longtime advisers over lunch in Kentucky on 11 January, five days after the insurrection. He spoke to the men about the upcoming impeachment proceedings led by the Democrats.

“The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us,” McConnell said. “If this isn’t impeachable, I don’t know what is.”

Several senior Republican senators believed that McConnell was leaning toward impeachment once the proceedings would get to the Senate. The Democratic Senate leader, Chuck Schumer, told associates that he believed McConnell’s frustration with Trump could push him toward impeachment, but said “I don’t trust him, and I would not count on it.”

While McCarthy and McConnell acknowledged Trump’s responsibility in the immediate aftermath of the insurrection, both men quickly went back to publicly supporting Trump. In April 2021, McCarthy told Fox News that Trump was unaware that the attack was happening until McCarthy broke the news to him.

“He didn’t see it, but he ended the call … telling me he’ll put something out to make sure to stop this.”

As the special House panel investigating the attack prepares to hold public hearings next month, McCarthy has denounced the committee’s investigation, refusing to cooperate with its inquiry on conversations the leader had with Trump in the days after the attack.

McConnell, meanwhile, has taken a more supportive stance of the committee, saying in December that he believes their investigation is “something the public needs to know”. Still, the Senate minority leader said he would “absolutely” support Trump if he was the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.



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