The former president and the House minority leader spoke last week after The New York Times reported on the latter’s post-Jan. 6 comments, with the former seeming more amused than anything, noting that McCarthy’s failure to follow through on his tough talk was a sign of the Republican Party’s support for him. Punchbowl News on Thursday pointed to a new excerpt from the Times writers’ new book in which Trump reportedly “waved aside” McCarthy’s private push to challenge the president, chalking it up to an “inferiority complex.”
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 28, 2022
The excerpt is the latest wrinkle in the fallout from the Times‘ report that McCarthy privately expressed outrage at the president following the attack on the Capitol, to the point that he told Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) that he planned to tell Trump he should resign. McCarthy tried to deny the Times’ reporting, prompting Times reporters Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin to release audio proving its accuracy. McCarthy then scurried down to the U.S.-Mexico border with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to prove his allegiance to Trump. He deflected questions about the tapes.
There were more of them, though. The Times earlier this week released audio of McCarthy saying fellow Republicans like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) were “putting people in jeopardy” after Jan. 6. The party’s more extreme reaches have been none too pleased by any of this. Gaetz bashed McCarthy on Twitter, calling him a “weak man,” and again last night to Tucker Carlson on Fox News — at length. “I don’t know that Kevin McCarthy is in line to be speaker,” Gaetz said. “I don’t know if the guy could get an account on Truth Social at this point, based on the inconsistency of the recordings and what he says to us.”
Gaetz: I mean I don’t know if Kevin McCarthy is in line to be Speaker. I don’t know if the guy could get an account on Truth Social at this point… This notion that you can have these sniveling calls… is not fitting of leadership pic.twitter.com/lPGSJjU0cN
— Acyn (@Acyn) April 28, 2022
McCarthy is hearing it from the other end of the party, as well. The Republican Accountability Project, formerly Republican Voters Against Trump, responded to the tapes by putting up billboards in McCarthy’s California district. “WE’VE HEARD THE TAPES, KEVIN,” they read. “Stop lying about January 6th.”
The good news for McCarthy and his prospects to become House speaker should the party win control of Congress in November is that the party’s far-more-substantial center is standing behind him — likely because they, too, have privately railed against Trump while publicly supporting him. McCarthy received a standing ovation after addressing the tapes during a party conference meeting on Wednesday.