A series of contradictions and denials emerged late last week when House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) refuted reports that he wanted former President Donald Trump to resign in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol unrest, though a leaked recording of a conversation he had with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) appeared to show otherwise, a turn of events likely to infuriate the former commander in chief, as Fox News reports.
The controversy began when the New York Times published a report suggesting that McCarthy had indeed expressed a wish that Trump would step down in the waning days of his term and that he told others in his party, “I’ve had it with this guy.”
In response, McCarthy issued a Twitter statement declaring the Times‘ account “totally false and wrong” and stating that it “comes as no surprise that the corporate media is obsessed with doing everything it can to further a liberal agenda.”
A spokesperson for McCarthy also denied the substance of the report, contending that the congressman “never said he’d call Trump to say he should resign.”
Hours after those denials were made, however, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow played a recording of the aforementioned chat with Cheney, during which McCarthy was asked what he might say when he next spoke to Trump, a question to which he replied, “it would be my recommendation you should resign.”
As a result of the back-and-forth, speculation ran rampant as to who may have been responsible for leaking audio of the call between McCarthy and Cheney, and though the latter denied involvement, others theorized that either Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) or GOP Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) could have been the culprit.
Those questions aside, the topic with which many are now engrossed is whether the flap will have a lasting, detrimental impact on McCarthy’s relationship with Trump as well as on the former’s interest in becoming House speaker should a much-predicted Republican wave sweep through the midterm elections.
As of now, it appears that the two Republican power brokers have patched things up, with the Washington Post reporting that McCarthy and Trump spoke after the leaked recording aired, with the former president expressing his happiness with the fact that the House leader never did follow through with the plan he relayed to Cheney.
Even if Trump and McCarthy are indeed on relatively good terms, it remains to be seen whether MAGA-minded members of Congress would be quite as willing to support him in the race to become speaker if the opportunity arises, in light of what some of them may view as an act of disloyalty worthy of suspicion.