Just days after the Jan. 6 riot, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy told a fellow Republican lawmaker that he would recommend to then-President Donald Trump that he resign, according to audio of a call shared with MSNBC and aired Thursday night.
In the Jan. 10, 2021, call, McCarthy can be heard telling Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., that he planned to tell the president he should step down following the violent attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters.
McCarthy, R-Calif., also indicated that he thought impeachment would succeed in the House and possibly the Senate.
“The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” McCarthy said in audio that aired on “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
The New York Times on Thursday reported the contents of the call, which is included in the coming book “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future,” by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, due out May 3.
McCarthy denied the Times report, calling it “totally false and wrong” in a statement on Twitter.
The Times later shared audio of the call with MSNBC.
On the call, Cheney can be heard asking McCarthy about the possibility of resignation.
“Are you hearing that he might resign? Is there any reason to think that might happen?” Cheney asks.
McCarthy responds that he’s “had a few discussions,” adding that he was planning to call Trump later that night but was doubtful that Trump would “ever walk away.”
“But what I think I’m going to do is I’m going to call him,” McCarthy says.
“This, this is what I think: We know that it’ll pass the House. I think there’s a chance it’ll pass the Senate, even when he’s gone,” McCarthy says, apparently referring to an impeachment resolution.
NBC News has reached out to McCarthy’s and Cheney’s offices for comment on the new audio.
The revelations could complicate McCarthy’s path to the speakership should Republicans win back control of the House in the November midterm elections. He will likely need Trump’s support to secure the speaker’s gavel if there’s a GOP majority.
Three days after McCarthy’s phone call with Cheney, he said on the House floor that Trump “bears responsibility for” the “attack on Congress by mob rioters” and “should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
He went on to say Trump “needs to accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President-elect Joe Biden is able to successfully begin his term.”
But by the following week, McCarthy had reversed course, telling reporters, “I don’t believe he provoked it, if you listen to what he said at the rally” on Jan. 6. Days later, McCarthy met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, seeking to repair their relationship.
Haley Talbot and Kyle Stewart contributed.