House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke with former President Donald Trump following the release of audio of a January 2021 leadership call in which the California Republican said he would urge Trump to resign after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, two sources familiar with the conversation confirmed.
McCarthy on Friday told members that the previous evening he spoke with Trump, saying the former president was not angry following reports detailing McCarthy’s criticisms, which he initially denied. Speculation over whether Trump would take aim at McCarthy in the wake of the controversy emerged on Thursday evening, with McCarthy’s critics arguing it could affect his efforts to become the next speaker of the House.
But others argued that McCarthy remains well positioned to lead Republicans in the next Congress if the party wins a majority in the midterm elections, with Trump remaining an ally.
“I listened to the tape last night. Kevin’s obviously got some information that there’s some Republican senators thinking about voting to convict on impeachment and he’s concerned about Trump and what would be in his best interest to do so, and I didn’t see it as incendiary,” one House GOP leader said. “And I called Kevin this morning just to check in with him, and he said Trump had called him and, you know, Trump’s not upset. If he’s not upset, it’s not an issue.”
The lawmaker added that the situation may be beneficial for McCarthy in showing that he retains the former president’s support despite the tapes confirming his former criticisms.
“In fact, this might help him — there’s one or two in the conference that likes to cause problems. If they see there wasn’t a problem and that Trump stuck with him, maybe that helps Kevin in the long run,” the source said. “Since, then, the message is that we need to pull together and get this majority and do what the American people want us to do and stop playing games.”