GOP’s McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel
With his eye on the Speaker’s gavel, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyThe fate of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump House GOP campaign arms in 0M in 2021 McCarthy dodges, deflects Jan. 6 questions MORE (R-Calif.) has almost no political incentive to cooperate with the Jan. 6 Select Committee.
It would exasperate the elders President TrumpDonald TrumpThe fate of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump’s resolution to honor Capitol workers on January 6 would have been rejected by Hawley, Senator Trump says to rally supporters in Texas MORE and his far-right allies in Congress, and will make it much harder for McCarthy to win an internal election for president if the GOP regains a majority in the House this fall.
Yet there are also risks for McCarthy to remain silent about his conversations with Trump before and during the violent attack, as it will give Democrats and even some Republicans an opportunity to inflict damage on the GOP leader. weakening McCarthy as he struggles to maintain control of his boisterous caucus during a critical time for his party.
“The significance of what happened that day is not lost on anyone, and he clearly put political calculation above talking about what he knows,” said a Republican aide to the Chamber about McCarthy’s communications with Trump around January 6.
“He thinks if he cooperates he’ll anger Trump and the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Matt Gaetz of the world will get mad at him, and then if the Republicans take a majority they won’t support him for president,” he said. The source. added. “His whole focus, everything he does, is ‘how do I get or keep 218 votes so I can be president.’ ”
It’s a delicate balancing act that McCarthy has struggled with since his first failed attempt to grab the president’s gavel in 2015. That year, McCarthy had the support of most establishment Republicans, but a small conservative House Freedom Caucus group blocked it. to go up to the President’s office.
When Trump won the White House a year later, McCarthy hitched his wagon to the Mercurial President and became one of his strongest supporters on the Hill. But the Jan. 6 attack — and Trump’s role in it — quickly complicated their relationship and raised doubts among Trump loyalists about whether McCarthy can be trusted.
Greene, a favorite Trump ally, said last fall that McCarthy “doesn’t have the full support to be president.”
The select committee of January 6, led by the president Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonGOP Rep. Katko, who voted to impeach Trump, will not run for re-election (D-Miss.) and Vice President Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe fate of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Joe Biden’s disastrous House 48-Hour Committee on January 6 fends off legal challenge to its structure MORE (R-Wyo.), sent a letter this week seeking to tell McCarthy about his frantic phone call to Trump that day as a crowd of thousands of his supporters besieged the Capitol.
But the letter also highlighted the evolution of McCarthy’s response to the attack, accusing the leader of having “changed significantly” since meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago shortly after the attack.
The letter includes direct quotes from McCarthy’s speech saying that Trump “bears responsibility” for the “rioter’s attack on Congress.” He also asks McCarthy about interviews he gave to his local newspaper describing a “very heated conversation” with Trump, demanding that he “get some help” while the attack was in progress. Help from the National Guard did not arrive for hours.
On Friday, more headaches arose for McCarthy. CNN has extracted audio from a sloppy interview McCarthy gave to a local radio station in his district, where he repeatedly said that Trump was responsible for Jan. 6 and, in fact, said that Trump had says he was partly responsible for the attack.
“I say he has a responsibility. He told me personally that he had some responsibility. I think a lot of people do,” McCarthy told KERN-AM in Bakersfield, Calif.
Later, the radio host asks McCarthy if it’s true that the GOP leader tried to cut a deal with the majority leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerLobbying world Hoyer pledges support for disregard for uncooperative lawmakers in January 6 inquiry The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Biden heads to Georgia in Hail Mary movement MORE (D-Md.) To censure Trump for his role on Jan. 6.
“Yes,” McCarthy replied. “I think he has some responsibility. That’s why I think the censorship is getting to this level.
The reappearance of McCarthy’s comments about Trump’s responsibility could complicate their fragile relationship. Trump used a vulgar term to describe McCarthy less than two weeks after the attack, prompting McCarthy to take a trip to see the ex-president at Mar-a-Lago and mend the relationship soon after.
If Trump turns on McCarthy, it would be a fatal blow to the California Republican’s lifelong dreams of becoming president given Trump’s continued dominance of the party, even after the Jan. 6 attack. Without Trump’s support, McCarthy could never get the necessary 218 votes in the House.
“He and Trump haven’t really been on the best of terms since Jan. 6, so I’m sure McCarthy is worried about that with his presidency on the line. Because the last thing he wants is a statement or Donald Trump on the stump telling Republicans, ‘Don’t support your member if he supports Kevin McCarthy because he didn’t fight for me, etc.,’ a second Republican aide said. The hill.
“He needs the support of Trump and/or Trump to be quiet to be president.”
Facing reporters at a contentious press conference this week, McCarthy largely dodged and deflected questions about his refusal to sit down with the committee.
He said he had already given numerous media interviews about his conversations with Trump, and that there was nothing the Jan. 6 committee would learn from talking to him.
The committee’s efforts are “pure politics,” McCarthy said.
But the committee has a number of outstanding questions for McCarthy and his conversations with Trump before, during and after the attack, including when he first spoke with Trump, and whether accounts of his conversations with Trump – relayed by other legislators – are accurate.
house tenant Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe fate of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Biden’s senior adviser voices support for Congress’ stock trading ban House GOP campaign arm misses 0M in 2021 MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday that McCarthy has “an obligation” to help uncover the truth about what happened, while Republican members of the committee also harassed the leader.
“I want him to be a brave and honorable man,” Cheney, one of the two Republican members on the panel, told CNN. “He is clearly trying to cover up what happened. He has an obligation to come forward, and we will get to the truth.
The committee’s headache isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The panel has hinted that it may be willing to consider formal subpoenas for lawmakers who do not comply with its initial invitations, a group that also includes the representative. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMcCarthy says he will not cooperate with the January 6 “illegitimate” investigation. The January 6 panel asks McCarthy to cooperate. (R-Ohio) and Rep. Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryMcCarthy says he won’t cooperate with ‘illegitimate’ Jan. 6 inquiry Jan. 6 panel asks McCarthy to cooperate MORE (R-Pa.).
Failure to comply means he could face contempt of the congressional resolution and prosecution from the Justice Department, just like former White House strategist Stephen Bannon.
Such a move would likely be challenged in court, adding another potential problem for McCarthy.
“I think he’s listed the pros and cons, checked and measured and acknowledges: ‘If I cooperate – even if this pressure only increases in the future, even if these issues will only get worse’ step up, even if it will consume everything and become a distraction — the downside of cooperating means House Republicans won’t support me,” the first aide said.
“And I think he just made that calculation, and that’s how he’s going to operate going forward.”