GOP lawmakers told Trump takes some responsibility for Capitol riot
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on a Monday GOP conference call that President Trump told him he takes some responsibility for inciting the riots that took place at the Capitol on Wednesday, two GOP sources confirmed to The Hill.
The call marked the first time the entire caucus convened in the wake of the Capitol being breached, with multiple members voicing concerns about security in the future.
A sizable number of House Republican lawmakers have expressed strong frustration with the rhetoric Trump and his allies used — reiterating unsubstantiated claims the election was stolen and encouraging his supporters to march to the Capitol — before the violent insurrection, which left five dead.
Trump’s calls for action on Wednesday came as lawmakers were set to affirm the 2020 election results, with a number of Republicans challenging the results in swing states that President-elect Joe Biden won.
“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong,” Trump told a rally of supporters in Washington shortly before the Capitol siege.
While some GOP lawmakers who challenged the Electoral College results said they felt changes to certain election procedures were unconstitutional and warranted a debate, others have blasted the members who led the efforts, arguing that they furthered a false narrative and incited violence.
Congress ultimately rejected the 2020 challenges and officially marked Biden’s win early Thursday morning.
Per multiple sources familiar with Monday’s call, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) got into a heated exchange with first-year Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), raising concerns that Boebert risked lawmakers’ safety by tweeting their location during the lockdown.
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) also raised concerns about Boebert’s tweets.
Rep. Rodney Davis (Ill.), the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, briefed members on the latest safety measures being taken in the wake of the attack, telling them that the Capitol grounds will be more “hardened” for the foreseeable future, per one senior GOP source.
The House Administration Committee is also expected to launch staff and member listening sessions in an effort to hear concerns and make the complex more secure.
In the wake of Trump’s actions leading up to the riot, Democrats earlier Monday introduced an article of impeachment against the president that is slated to be brought to the floor for a vote on Wednesday.
It remains unclear how many GOP lawmakers will join Democrats in voting in favor of impeaching the president for a second time.
Sources on the call said that McCarthy warned members not to go on TV and bash one another. He also reiterated the notion that the FBI has determined the rioters were pro-Trump and not members of the left-wing antifa movement as some Trump allies had suggested.
“McCarthy told all members on the call that he has been receiving FBI briefings and it is clear that antifa was not behind this,” a source familiar with the call said. “It was in fact right-wing extremists and QAnon adherents, and he urged members to stop spreading false information to the contrary.”
Prior to the call, McCarthy sent a letter to his conference coming out against impeachment but weighing the possibility of a censure, a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol, reforms to the Electoral Count Act of 1887 and potential legislative action to promote voter confidence.
Republicans who voted in favor of challenging the Electoral College certification have come under ongoing fire, with corporate PACs and trade groups vowing to withhold campaign contributions.
“There was a lot of hypocrisy from several members of our leadership on this,” one GOP aide said on the loss of donations. “But there was also a lot of groveling that I assume is based in fear.”