How Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump
The poster child for subservient Republican Party leadership to former President Trump is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
First elected to Congress in 2006, McCarthy won his eighth term in 2020 with 62.1 percent of the vote from his south-central valley California district, where Donald Trump beat Joe Biden by a whopping 57.1 percent to 41.5 percent.
Then on Jan. 3, 2021, McCarthy raised his hand to swear his oath of office, beginning with: “I, Kevin McCarthy do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same …” and ending with “So help me God.”
Three days later, on Jan. 6, a violent Trump-inspired Capitol attack has since challenged McCarthy’s relationship with the truth — questioning the sincerity of his congressional oath.
Based on his recent statements and actions, one could argue that McCarthy has sold his soul to former President Trump in what could be construed as a multi-layered “Faustian bargain.”
First, the “agreement” precludes McCarthy and other GOP members from sharing with the Jan. 6 House committee their knowledge about Trump’s role and communications with him before and during the attack.
In return – to the delight of McCarthy – Trump will leverage his fundraising power and actively campaign to help the GOP win control of the House in November’s midterm elections. Meanwhile, McCarthy must accept the cult-like hero-worship of Trump by the GOP base. Through Trump’s immutable leadership style, which unleashes fear and retribution while masterfully perpetuating the “Big Lie,” the twice-impeached former president remains the titular leader of the Republican Party to whom McCarthy must bow.
Second, if the GOP wins control of the House, assume that Trump will tease and dangle the “keys” to the House speaker’s office in McCarthy’s face. Trump knows that since 2015, McCarthy has eagerly eyed that prestigious title after it unexpectedly slipped from his grasp and then-Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reluctantly accepted the job.
Then, it is highly probable in January 2023, with marching orders in hand, Speaker McCarthy – acting as Trump’s emissary – will embark on a “reign of revenge” and promptly close the Jan. 6 commission. Furthermore, who knows what else McCarthy will shut down or bury at Trump’s behest.
But McCarthy has not always done Trump’s bidding.
A Hill headline dated Feb. 17, 2021, read: “Riot probe to likely focus on McCarthy-Trump call,” and reported that during the riot, McCarthy called Trump and yelled, “You need to make this stop.” And then, “McCarthy was among the first leaders to endorse the 9/11-style commission… both amplifying that call and warning against any partisan lean to the panel.”
But after Jan. 28, 2021, McCarthy exhibited a noticeable change. The Hill also reported: “McCarthy was singing a very different tune, maintaining that Trump was not the spark that sent the mob to the Capitol, and should therefore not be blamed for the violence that followed.”
Fast forward to last week when the Jan. 6 committee wrote McCarthy asking for his cooperation. But the GOP leader has repositioned or forgotten his previous reality-based Jan. 6 related statements. Issues concerning “security” are now McCarthy’s main Jan. 6 talking points. Could McCarthy have suffered memory loss from Trump’s Gucci shoe footprint on his head?
Perhaps, and it would explain why McCarthy said: “As a representative and the leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this select committee’s abuse of power that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward.”
But questions remain: “Was there a conspiratorial quid pro quo made between Trump and McCarthy at their pivotal, curiously-timed Mar-a-Lago meeting on Jan. 28, 2021? And at the meeting, “Did Trump cast a magic spell on McCarthy, turning him from Jan. 6 truth-teller to Trump-puppet?”
The Jan. 6 committee is curiously suspicious, which is why the following intriguing paragraphs appear in its six-page letter to McCarthy:
“Despite the many substantial concerns you voiced about President Trump’s responsibility for the January 6th attack, you nevertheless visited President Trump in Mar-a-Lago on January 28th (the impeachment trial began on February 9, 2021).
“While there, you reportedly discussed campaign planning and fundraising to retake the House majority in 2022. The Select Committee has no intention of asking you about electoral politics or campaign-related issues, but does wish to discuss any communications you had with President Trump at that time regarding your account of what actually happened on January 6th.
“Your public statements regarding January 6th have changed markedly since you met with Trump. At that meeting, or at any other time, did President Trump or his representatives discuss or suggest what you should say publicly, during the impeachment trial (if called as a witness), or in any later investigation about your conversations with him on January 6th?”
Courageous, oath-abiding Republican members of Congress must insist that Minority Leader McCarthy answer and address those legitimate questions and concerns.
Last year, Trump and McCarthy’s GOP nemesis – truth-teller Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) – was asked, “If Republicans win control of the House, should McCarthy become speaker?” She answered, “The position should go to someone who can demonstrate a ‘commitment to the Constitution and… the rule of law,’ adding that McCarthy ‘has not done that.’”
With McCarthy beholden to Trump, has McCarthy compromised his ability and oath to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”?
What if the Jan. 6 committee or Justice Department determines that Trump authorized an elaborate conspiracy to keep himself in power? Could that also mean that he would have agreed to help elevate McCarthy to the nation’s third-highest office in exchange for McCarthy’s support on Jan. 6 issues, if Republicans regain control of the House in this year’s midterms?
Unless McCarthy rejects his role as Trump’s sycophant, stand-in and 2024 warm-up act, he should never be elected House speaker for the good of our nation.
House Republicans must elect a leader who abides by their oath of office.
Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.
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