Sen. Elizabeth Warren didn’t hold back Sunday in attacking House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy over leaked audio that revealed he planned to push former President Donald Trump to resign in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, initially had denied a report in The New York Times report that detailed phone conversations in which he expressed outrage over the Jan 6 events. But a recording of the chat with GOP lawmakers revealed his discomfort with Mr. Trump.
“Kevin McCarthy is a liar and a traitor. That is outrageous,” Mrs. Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, told CNN’s “State of the Union” before laying into Republicans generally. “They say something to the American public and something [else] in private.”
On Jan. 10, 2021, Mr. McCarthy told party leaders that he planned to tell Mr. Trump that the impeachment resolution brought against the president in the House would likely pass and that he “should resign,” though he acknowledged that Mr. Trump would not heed his advice, according to The Times report.
The conversation between Mr. McCarthy and the former president ultimately did not occur.
Soon after The Times article was published, Mr. McCarthy issued a statement calling the reporting “totally false and wrong” and reiterated his allegiance to Mr. Trump.
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Later Thursday, The Times released an audio recording confirming the reporting.
Mr. Trump said Friday that while he was displeased with Mr. McCarthy’s comments in the recording, the two have had a “very good relationship.”
“I like him,” Mr. Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “And other than that brief period of time, I suspect he likes me quite a bit.”
Congressional Republicans who must decide whether Mr. McCarthy stays on as leader following the mid-terms offered a collective shrug to the story on Sunday.
Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, said he expects the GOP to win as many as 40 additional seats in November and supports Mr. McCarthy for speaker.
“Absolutely, I think Kevin is in very good shape,” Mr. McCaul said. “In fact, the [former] president came out and said this is not going to endanger his relationship with Kevin, that he’s strongly supportive.”
He called the issue a “Beltway bubble blip” that won’t resonate with mid-term voters.
Rep. Victoria Spartz, Indiana Republican who was born in Ukraine, said there are more pressing issues than the leaked audio.
“We need to really deal with serious issues right now. We have a war in Europe, we have a serious situation on the border,” she said. “I know there is a lot of politics, a lot of drama. And I’ll tell you one thing, our Republican Party is a very diverse party and we have diverse opinions, which is good.”
Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican who is retiring, said Mr. McCarthy might not have remembered the conversation correctly and that he seemed to be working through various possibilities on the call.
“I’m only one of two people in the history of the country who’ve been elected leaders in both the House and Senate,” Mr. Blunt told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I’ve never been in a leadership meeting where you felt like you couldn’t think out loud. And apparently, they have a leadership where you can’t think out loud.”