Cheney not source of McCarthy suggesting Trump resign, spokesperson says
A spokesperson for Rep. Liz Cheney (R) said that the Wyoming congresswoman is not the person behind a recording of a Jan. 10, 2021, call with top Republicans that exposed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saying that he would recommend former President Trump resign if he was impeached.
Cheney, who was a party on the call, was a natural target of suspicion for leaking the audio recording.
Her continued vocal criticism of Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack eventually prompted House Republicans to remove her from her No. 3 conference chair leadership position last May, and her participation as vice chair of the House Select Committee to investigate Jan. 6 — despite McCarthy boycotting the panel — has further frustrated Republicans. She now has an icy relationship with McCarthy.
“The select committee has asked Kevin McCarthy to speak with us about these events but he has so far declined. Representative Cheney did not record or leak the tape and does not know how the reporters got it,” a spokesperson for Cheney said in a statement Friday morning.
McCarthy and his staff had initially denied that he made the comment when it was reported Thursday morning in The New York Times, adapted from the upcoming book “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future.” The story described top congressional Republicans, including McCarthy, privately bashing Trump to a further extent than previously known following the Capitol attack.
A spokesman specifically denied that McCarthy said he would call Trump to say he should resign, and McCarthy in a later statement called the report “totally false.”
The Times reporters stood by their reporting, and on Thursday night released a recording of the Jan. 10 call that backed up the quotes.
In the recording, Cheney is heard asking McCarthy if there is any reason to believe that Trump would resign. At that point, he had just 10 days left in office.
“What I think I’m going to do, is I’m going to call him,” McCarthy said, saying that he thought an impeachment resolution would pass the House and have a chance in the Senate. “The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign. I mean, that would be my take, but I don’t think he would take it. But I don’t know.”
McCarthy, who is aiming to be Speaker of the House if Republicans win control of the chamber in this year’s midterm elections, has not responded to the released recording refuting his denials.
The Republican leader was outwardly critical of Trump in the immediate aftermath of Jan. 6. Though he argued against impeachment, he said on the House floor on Jan. 13 that Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack. But he quickly warmed back up to the former president and visited Trump in Mar-a-Lago at the end of January.
The Times story reported other top House Republicans going further with their criticism of Trump in conversations around that time, with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) saying on one call that the GOP should think about a “post-Trump Republican House.” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) suggested censuring Trump.
Those details also prompted denials on Thursday, before the recording backing up McCarthy’s comments was released.
“This is fake news. Chairman Emmer never insinuated or suggested censuring President Trump. People will write anything to sell books,” NRCC Communications Director Michael McAdams said in a statement.
“The New York Times’ characterization of Whip Scalise’s position is false. He remains a close friend of President Trump and knows our country would not be facing all these economic and border crises if he were still president,” said a spokeswoman for Scalise.
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