McCarthy brushes off questions about GOP lawmakers downplaying Jan. 6 violence

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday repeatedly batted away questions about several Republican lawmakers who downplayed the violence that occurred at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and former President Trump’s role in the insurrection. 

McCarthy took reporters’ questions during the Back the Blue Bike Tour at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington as part of a National Police Week commemoration. Capitol Police officers were among those in attendance.

A reporter asked McCarthy about Rep. Andrew Clyde’s (R-Ga.) comments during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Wednesday about the federal and local government response to Jan. 6 that an image showing the mob staying within stanchions suggested that “if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from Jan. 6, you’d think it was a normal tourist visit.” 

“With all due respect, I was right here with Congressman Clyde laying a wreath for a fallen officer outside of his district,” McCarthy said.

When pressed further about Republicans casting doubt on the severity of the Jan. 6 insurrection, McCarthy said: “What happened on the 6th was atrocious.” 

“When I look at the rioters that came in, those people should be held accountable to the rule of law, and that’s exactly what’s happening,” McCarthy said. 

Some Republicans at Wednesday’s Oversight hearing cast an insurrectionist shot by a Capitol Police officer while trying to breach the House chamber as a “veteran wrapped in an American flag” who was “executed,” while others questioned whether the mob was really comprised of Trump supporters and emphasized that the Capitol Police officer who died after engaging with rioters died of “natural causes.”

A reporter also asked McCarthy how he could square his insistence the day before that “I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election” with polls showing most GOP voters don’t believe President Biden was legitimately elected and with Trump continuing to falsely claim the election was stolen from him.

“We’re here to honor National Police Week. There are times for politics, and there’s times for not,” McCarthy said. 

New body-camera footage from Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who was dragged down the Capitol steps and beaten by the mob on Jan. 6, was broadcast by CNN on Wednesday night. Fanone can be heard screaming and a rioter can be heard shouting, “I got one!” 

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) tweeted on Wednesday that Fanone had made multiple requests to speak with McCarthy and was “hung up on by McCarthy’s staff,” an allegation McCarthy’s communication’s director denied.


Fanone has been vocal about the trauma he suffered on Jan. 6 and recently penned an open letter to lawmakers criticizing those “who continue to downplay the events of that day.”

“The indifference shown to my colleagues and I is disgraceful,” Fanone wrote. 

McCarthy said Thursday that a meeting is in the works and he only learned of Fanone’s request on Wednesday.

“I’d like to meet with him,” McCarthy said.

Tags Capitol breach Capitol insurrection Donald Trump Eric Swalwell Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy

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