A secret recording of Kevin McCarthy telling Liz Cheney he will recommend Trump resign was released Thursday evening.
In a leaked recording of Kevin McCarthy on a call with Liz Cheney and other House Republicans, the Minority Leader told Cheney that he would counsel Trump to resign back on January 10, 2021.
“I think [impeachment resolutions] will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” McCarthy said he would tell Trump before further adding, “what he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it.”
Liz Cheney had pressed McCarthy about whether Trump could possibly choose to resign on his own: “Is there any chance? Are you hearing that he might resign? Is there any reason to think that might happen?”
McCarthy then admitted that this was a topic he has “had a few discussions” about with others. “My gut tells me no,” he said. “I’m seriously thinking of having that conversation with him tonight…Um, from what I know of him, I mean you guys all know him too, do you think he’d ever back away? But what I think I’m going to do, is I’m going to call him.”
According to the Washington Post, Trump and McCarthy spoke Thursday evening after the audio was leaked.
Trump is reportedly not upset with McCarthy and was “happy that McCarthy hadn’t followed through on what he had said privately.”
WaPo reported (emphasis ours):
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) hold on his status as the presumptive next GOP speaker was already tenuous. And on Thursday it seemed like it could slip further.
But how much?
For now, McCarthy appears to have avoided blowback from the top of the party. Many Republicans seem to be waiting for a cue from Trump about how to respond, though some have weighed in to defend or criticize McCarthy.
And The Post reports he spoke with Trump after the audio of the call was released, and Trump was not upset — indeed, he was even happy that McCarthy hadn’t followed through on what he had said privately.
Trump has been more accommodating of McCarthy than McConnell. They soon patched things up after McCarthy publicly blamed Trump for not quelling the Jan. 6 riot and even floated a historic censure resolution against Trump. McCarthy has also been more solicitous of Trump than McConnell has. And that could matter for the fate of his career.
Recent history is instructive when it comes to those with whom Trump is willing to reconcile.
On the one hand, Trump has been willing to overlook past criticisms — even harsh ones — provided the lawmaker in question proceeds to display the requisite obsequiousness. Trump recently endorsed Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance despite Vance having sharply criticized him in 2016 as unfit to be president.
And indeed, part of the reason Trump was reportedly not upset Thursday night was that McCarthy’s retreat showed the strength of Trump’s grip on the party.