House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) signaled Thursday that he’d be willing to detail his phone conversation with then-President Donald Trump during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to any outside commission investigating that day’s violence.
“Sure,” McCarthy responded to a reporter during an event marking Cuban Independence Day at the Capitol. “Next question.”
The House voted 252-175 Wednesday to pass legislation creating a 9/11-style commission to examine the riot, which led to the deaths of five people and interrupted the joint session of Congress that was counting the 2020 presidential election’s electoral votes. Thirty-five Republicans voted to approve the legislation in a rebuke of McCarthy and other House GOP leaders who opposed it.
The most detailed account of the Trump-McCarthy phone call on that day comes from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the 45th president in response to the riot. According to a statement Herrera Beutler released in February, McCarthy asked Trump “to publicly and forcefully” call off his supporters.
When Trump claimed that members of Antifa were responsible for the violence, “McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters,” Herrera Beutler recalled. “That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’”
All 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January backed the creation of the commission, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who was removed as House Republican Conference chair earlier this month over her repeated criticism of Trump’s claims that the election was stolen by Democrats.
Earlier Thursday, Trump attacked what he called “35 wayward Republicans” in a statement in which he lamented: “We have much better policy and are much better for the Country, but the Democrats stick together, the Republicans don’t.”
McCarthy has insisted that any commission investigating the Jan. 6 riot should have a broad remit to investigate other violence, including the 2017 shooting at a congressional baseball practice that seriously injured House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and the riots that rocked American cities in the summer of 2020.
The measure moves to the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has vowed to bring it to the floor for a vote. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has opposed the legislation, calling the proposed commission “slanted and unbalanced.”
“It’s not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could lay on top of the existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress,” McConnell said in a statement Wednesday. “The facts have come out and will continue to come out.”
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