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Kevin McCarthy

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Fox News is ignoring the biggest political story of the day after newly released audio revealed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said he was planning to push for then-President Donald Trump’s resignation shortly after Trump’s failed coup attempt on January 6, 2021.

The New York Times reported Thursday that in the days following the attack on the Capitol, both McCarthy and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had privately examined ways for congressional Republicans to join with Democrats in pushing Trump out of politics. McCarthy reportedly told a group of Republican leaders, “I’ve had it with this guy,” and said that he would tell Trump to resign from office rather than be impeached, which he believed had a high likelihood of succeeding. But those same Republican leaders sang a completely different tune in public, opposing the effort to impeach Trump and successfully blocking an indictment in the Senate that would have disqualified him from holding public office ever again. (They have also opposed all efforts to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the coup attempt.)

McCarthy’s lie gets unmasked

McCarthy posted a statement Thursday on Twitter, calling the Times’ report “totally false and wrong.” The problem here is that there’s an audio recording from January 10, 2021, showing that McCarthy just lied. He did voice support for Trump’s removal from office, clearly stating his plan to encourage the president to resign rather than being forced out. You can listen to the audio yourself.

Times correspondents Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns appeared on Thursday night’s edition of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, during which the host played the audio recording of McCarthy saying, “The only discussion I would have with [Trump] is that, I think this [impeachment] will pass, and it will be my recommendation you should resign. I mean, that would be my take, but I don’t think he would take it, but I don’t know.”

“Mr. McCarthy flat-out and categorically denied that today,” Maddow said. “He denied that he said he would tell Trump to resign. He in fact said exactly that.

Martin contrasted McCarthy’s plan with his later realization that House Republican members were, by and large, not angry with Trump over the events of the insurrection, saying, “McCarthy is down at Mar-a-Lago before the month is out and patching up his relationship with President Trump.”

Burns said, “If past performance is any indicator of future results, what you heard on that tape and then what Kevin McCarthy did subsequently to hold Donald Trump to account — which was nothing — is a pretty ominous story about the future.”

Fox News’ cover-up of the biggest scandal of the day

Fox News has not covered the tape on the air, and late Friday morning its website published a strange article with the headline “McCarthy rebuts reporting on leaked recordings recommending Trump resign as Cheney, Scalise deny involvement.” The article only contained references to events from earlier on Thursday — including McCarthy’s denial — before the tapes actually became public later that night. A person who read only this article would not even know that the audio recording is now in the public record and that McCarthy’s public denial was revealed as a complete lie.

The story about the audio confirming the Times’ reporting has been carried by multiple other news outlets, including The Associated Press, Politico and The Washington Post. On CNN’s New Day, co-anchor Brianna Keilar bluntly declared, “Here he is caught, pretty much, in a lie.”

Even the far-right website The Gateway Pundit picked up the story — to express outrage at McCarthy’s betrayal of Trump. But anyone who gets their news by watching Fox would still not have heard of it.

Fox News has consistently downplayed stories about Trump’s threat to American democracy — something in which the network has played its own part. This latest situation is also eerily similar to Fox’s selective silence five months ago, when the network did not cover an audio recording in which Trump openly defended rioters who had chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” following his failed efforts to cajole his then-vice president into unconstitutionally refusing to certify President Joe Biden’s election victory. (Another shared attribute between two stories: Both have involved mainstream reporters obtaining this information, but then refusing to report it to the public for months — instead saving it for a book launch.)

Printed with permission from MediaMatters.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

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A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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