McCarthy denies that he's discussed plan to force out Ryan

McCarthy denies that he's discussed plan to force out Ryan
© Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate How Trump and Pelosi went from bad to worse House Republicans 'demand the release of the rules' on impeachment MORE (R-Calif.) is denying that he has had conversations about trying to force out Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash: Trump incorrect in claiming Congress didn't subpoena Obama officials Democrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate MORE (R-Wis.) with President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE's budget director, Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyWhite House officials work to tamp down controversies after a tumultuous week Sunday shows — Mulvaney seeks to tamp down firestorm over quid pro quo comments, Doral decision Mulvaney says he thinks Trump knows people thought Doral decision looked 'lousy' MORE.

The Weekly Standard on Monday quoted Mulvaney as saying he had talked with McCarthy about the possibility of holding a Speaker's vote before the midterm elections.

"I've talked with Kevin about this privately but not as much publicly,” Mulvaney said. “Wouldn't it be great to force a Democrat running in a tight race to have to put up or shut up about voting for Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Trump lashes out at Pelosi as she visits Jordan to discuss Syria Thomas D'Alesandro III, brother of Nancy Pelosi, dies at 90 MORE eight weeks before an election? That's a really, really good vote for us to force if we can figure out how to do it."

McCarthy, now Ryan's deputy, said he talks to Mulvaney frequently but pushed back on the remark.

"Mulvaney and I are longtime friends. We go to dinner when we're back here on the early nights," he said.

"The only thing Mulvaney has ever talked about was, 'Are you going to run for Speaker if we keep the majority?' Nothing different than that whatsoever. ... I don't understand The Weekly Standard, I thought I was very clear on that — that is not true. I don't know what somebody is trying to create here, but not true," McCarthy said.

The California Republican added he's never discussed any sort of plan to oust Ryan with any other White House official.

"No way did we ever have any conversation about Paul leaving," he said, adding he still thinks Ryan is a viable Speaker through the end of his term.

Rumors of a push for Ryan to step down have intensified following the failure of the farm bill Friday — a top priority for the Wisconsin Republican due to its language on welfare reform — and the growing push from moderates to force floor votes on immigration. Some question whether Ryan, as a lame-duck Speaker, is losing control of the conference.

But McCarthy said his conversations with Mulvaney — a former member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus — have often centered on divisions in the Democratic Party.

"The only thing we talk about — not about a Speaker race, we talk about how divided the Democrats are. People don't realize, you know, we were laughing one day, saying we're divided, here we are passing all those big pieces of legislation," he continued. "If you sit with Democrats, they're totally divided."