Here are the GOP lawmakers targeted by McCarthy in new audio recordings
New audio recordings of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaking critically of some of his colleagues after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol are raising new questions about his future leadership of the conference.
GOP lawmakers leaving a conference meeting on Wednesday offered support for McCarthy, suggesting the tempest will be put to the side ahead of the midterm elections.
But they could come up again if a rival conservative wanted to challenge McCarthy for the Speakership should Republicans win back the House majority in November.
The recordings — taken during a call with members of House GOP leadership on Jan. 10, 2021, and obtained by The New York Times for an upcoming book — illustrate frustrations the minority leader had with remarks from conservative members of his conference.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), the No. 2 House Republican, also offers critical remarks of various members.
“These members on either, whatever position you are, calling out other members, that stuff’s got to stop, especially in this nature,” McCarthy said on the call.
“Tension is too high. The country is too crazy. I do not want to look back and think we caused something or we missed something and someone got hurt. I don’t want to play politics with any of that,” he added.
Here are the four GOP lawmakers McCarthy specifically mentioned.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
McCarthy on the Jan. 10 call said Gaetz was “putting people in jeopardy” with his remarks following the Capitol riot.
He was specifically concerned with comments the Florida Republican made about Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who was already receiving jabs from pro-Trump Republicans after being critical of then-President Trump, according to the Times.
“He doesn’t need to be doing this,” McCarthy said of Gaetz. “We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know, and these people came prepared with rope, with everything else.”
Scalise also aired concerns about Gaetz, floating that his comments may have been against the law.
“It’s potentially illegal what he’s doing,” the No. 2 House Republican said.
McCarthy at one point mentioned that Gaetz had made comments calling people out by name and labeling them “anti-Trump.”
“In this type of atmosphere, in some of the other places, this is, this is serious stuff people are doing that has to stop,” McCarthy said.
He told his colleagues that he planned to call Gaetz to tell him “this is serious shit” and to urge him to “cut this out.”
While Republican House members for the most part have not criticized McCarthy over the remarks, Gaetz slammed McCarthy and Scalise in a statement Tuesday evening, calling the two GOP leaders “weak men” and accusing them of protecting Cheney from criticism while others in the party were safeguarding Trump from impeachment.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)
Participants on the Jan. 10 call discussed remarks Brooks made at a rally that preceded the riot, including when he said “today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”
McCarthy said the statement may have gone further than what Trump had said.
“You think the president deserves to be impeached? Well his comments, that’s almost something that goes further than what the president said,” the minority leader said.
Scalise said he heard some members discussing potentially bringing Brooks up at a Republican Steering Committee meeting and possibly stripping him of his committees.
He said it would be “kind of in the vein of” former Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who was removed from his committee assignments in 2019 after making a comment about white supremacy.
“I’ve heard some members talk about bringing Mo up at Steering Committee to possibly strip him of committees, kind of in the vein of Steve King. So I would imagine this will definitely come up at Steering Committee,” Scalise said.
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Ala.)
Republicans on the call aired concerns about tweets Moore wrote in the days after the Jan. 6 riot.
In one of his posts, which has since been deleted but was captured by reporter Jamie Dupree, Moore said “Wow we have more arrests for stealing a podium on January 6th than we do for stealing an election on November 3rd! Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Detroit, would be places I recommend you start; there is video of evidence of these crimes as well! #ElectionIntegrityMatters.”
In another tweet, Moore mentioned the accounts of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and NARAL Pro-Choice America, writing, “I Understand it was a black police officer that shot the white female veteran . You know that doesn’t fit the narrative,” likely referring to the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 riot by a Capitol Police officer.
After being told about the Alabama Republican’s tweets, McCarthy said, “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away too?”
Moore, a first-term congressman representing Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, was one of nearly 150 Republicans who voted to object to the certification of the Electoral College votes of the 2020 presidential election.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)
McCarthy and Scalise on the Jan. 10 call also discussed comments made by Gohmert in the lead-up to the Capitol riot.
“And Louie said, like, we need to fight or something, right? Didn’t he say something a couple days out that was horrendous?” McCarthy said.
“There was something like that, yes. It was incendiary,” Scalise said.
After mentioning comments from Brooks and Gohmert, McCarthy said, “Our members have got to start paying attention to what they say, too, and you can’t put up with that type of shit.”