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Jan. 6 committee wants to talk to House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy

McCarthy spoke to Trump the day of the attack

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., holds his weekly news conference in the Capitol on Dec. 3, 2021.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., holds his weekly news conference in the Capitol on Dec. 3, 2021. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Jan. 6 select committee is asking House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to voluntarily provide information to the panel, including about communications he had with former President Donald Trump on the day of the riot and Trump’s state of mind following the attack.

The committee wants to know more about the conversations the California Republican had with Trump before, during and after the Capitol attack. McCarthy spoke with Trump as the riot was happening and asked him to make a public statement to call off the violence.

“I was very clear with the president when I called him,” McCarthy told CBS of his talks with Trump during the riot. “This has to stop and he has to go to the American public and tell them to stop this.”

McCarthy recounted a conversation he had with Trump during the insurrection to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash. She said when McCarthy was finally able to reach Trump on the day of the insurrection and asked him to make a statement calling it off, Trump falsely claimed the rioters who breached the Capitol were members of antifa. According to Herrera Beutler, when McCarthy pushed back and said they were Trump supporters, Trump told him, “‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’”

The committee also notes McCathy told a local news outlet in California that he had a “very heated conversation” with Trump during the riot and urged him to “get help” to the Capitol.

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told McCarthy that his communications with Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, in the lead-up to Jan. 6 are of interest.

“We also must learn about how the President’s plans for January 6th came together, and all the other ways he attempted to alter the results of the election,” Thompson said in a statement. “For example, in advance of January 6th, you reportedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former President that objections to the certification of the electoral votes on January 6th ‘was doomed to fail.’”

McCarthy objected to some electoral votes after the attack. The committee wants to ask McCarthy about his conversations with Trump; Trump’s legal team; Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; and others about objecting. The panel is also interested in asking about McCarthy’s communications with Trump, White House staff and others in the week following the attack, “particularly regarding President Trump’s state of mind at that time.”

So far, McCarthy, Jordan and Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., are the three GOP lawmakers the select committee has publicly asked to comply with their inquiry. Perry declined to cooperate, and Jordan did the same, sending a letter criticizing the committee as partisan.

McCarthy said in a statement Wednesday night that he would not cooperate with the committee’s inquiry.

“As a representative and the leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this select committee’s abuse of power that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward.”

McCarthy voted against impeaching Trump last year, but acknowledged Trump’s role in the violence and suggested censure instead, a formal floor-level sanction. McCarthy also expressed support for a fact-finding commission to investigate the attack.

“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” McCarthy said of Trump on the House floor the day of the impeachment vote, Jan. 13. McCarthy added Trump “should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”

On Jan. 21, McCarthy reversed his position. When asked if Trump provoked the rioters to go to the Capitol, he said no.

“I don’t believe he provoked, if you listen to what he said at the rally,” McCarthy said. Later that month, McCarthy visited Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and eventually went on to oppose a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Capitol attack and the very select committee that is asking him for information.

The committee proposed meeting with McCarthy Feb. 3, 4 or the week of Feb. 7.

“It appears that you may also have discussed with President Trump the potential he would face a censure resolution, impeachment, or removal under the 25th Amendment. It also appears that you may have identified other possible options, including President Trump’s immediate resignation from office,” Thompson said.

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