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Tag: kevin mccarthy

House Republicans Launch Capitol Riot 'Counter-Programming' Cover-Up

Unrest in the Republican ranks has escalated into a mad scramble as pro-Trump House Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), hurriedly prepare counter-programming to defend former President Trump and denounce the House Select Committee, its findings, and Democrats.

A bipartisan panel of lawmakers investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection , the select committee held the first of its scheduled public hearings on Thursday evening, where it began to the findings of its almost year-long investigation into the insurrection, including “previously unseen material.”

Planning a push-back-harder strategy intended to please Trump and divert public attention away from the hearings will be a tall order for the MAGA coalition of House Republicans as they aren’t privy to what the select committee has uncovered.

On Wednesday, select committee staff correctly predicted that the hearings would show Trump as the central figure in a “coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a leading figure in the House GOP effort to play defense, has said that he and his far-right coalition plan to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi their prime target, Business Insider reported on Thursday.

"Nancy Pelosi blocked us from the committee because she knows that those questions leave a trail of breadcrumbs right back to the Speaker's office," Banks said to reporters at the US Capitol.

Banks also told reporters that if he were a member of the House Select Committee, he would investigate the roles “Pelosi, the House sergeant at arms at the time, Capitol Police, the FBI, and the National Guard could have played in the attacks,” according to Business Insider.

Another House Republican reportedly marshaling the group’s efforts is Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who has also assailed Pelosi for the hearings. "I am working closely with President Trump, Leader Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and my colleagues to help lead House Republicans in pushing back against lame-duck Speaker Pelosi's sham political witch-hunt," Stefanik said on Fox News.

Conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene also got in on the act in a Monday tweet, saying, “Dems think people care about J6 after Dems caused violent riots w/ $2+ B in damage all over the US in '20. Yeah. Dig that hole deeper.”

McCarthy and other Republicans spearheading this effort at misdirection, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who was subpoenaed along with McCarthy by the select committee but refused to cooperate, hope that their version of events will cast doubt on the select committee’s findings and arguments.

“We'll issue our report later in the year and it will have both facts as to why the Capitol was so unprepared and it will include recommendations the House should take up to prevent this from happening in the future,” said Mark Bednar, a spokesperson for McCarthy.

A Trump spokesperson, Taylor Budowich, in response to requests for comments, declined to outline what the GOP report would entail, but he confirmed that the conservative party’s leaders are fully on board with any plans to defend Trump during the hearings.

“The entire MAGA movement is united against this illegitimate committee and will work to ensure President Trump is defended against yet another Democrat show trial,” Budowich said. “Elected leaders and conservative organizations from every corner of our party are working together to ensure every American is informed by the truth, something the Fake News media is unwilling to do.”

Defying Subpoena, McCarthy Rejects Select Panel's Oversight

The leader of House Republicans Kevin McCarthy has responded to his subpoena from the House Select Committee with a lengthy letter from his attorney, arguing, like others have tried and failed before him, that the panel lacks “valid legislative purpose.”

And as for his own discussions with former President Donald Trump—impeached for inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last year—those details, McCarthy argues, are not subject to oversight.

McCarthy’s response also came with a list of demands, much like his colleague in the House and fellow Trump-ally Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. But unlike Jordan, who at the very least offered to provide an "adequate response” if his requests were met, McCarthy’s attorney, Elliot Berke, opted instead to present only McCarthy’s challenge to the committee’s authority—with the demand that members on the panel defend their “legal rationale” for issuing the subpoena.

“It is unclear how the Select Committee believes it is operating within the bounds of law or even within the confines of the authorizing resolution,” Berke wrote in the 11-page letter to committee chair Bennie Thompson.

As for the California Republican’s conversations with Trump on the day of the attack—the details of which the committee has sought for months and beyond what has potentially been publicly reported—McCarthy’s attorney says that information would effectively have no bearing on whatever legislative agenda the probe might have.

”Of course, the Select Committee has no valid legislative interest or oversight authority to question the Leader about public statements he has already made to the press or in the House Chamber,” Berke wrote.

McCarthy, through his attorney, also accused the committee of wishing to “interrogate him” politically and slammed the panel as unconstitutional and acting beyond the “power of inquiry as decreed by our Founding Fathers.”

Federal courts have already established that the committee has a valid legislative interest in investigating the events leading up to January 6. This decision was rendered in John Eastman’s fight to keep the committee away from documents it deemed pertinent to the probe’s fact-finding mission and again when the Republican National Committee tried to shield data from the committee about its fundraising materials.

Those documents, the committee has argued, were entrenched with the former president’s falsehoods and lies about the outcome of the 2020 election and this was used to effectively defraud the public.

McCarthy Letter to Bennie T... by Daily Kos

The response also contends at length that the committee itself was improperly formed because just nine members sit on it and the resolution states the speaker “shall appoint 13 members to the select committee, 5 of whom shall be appointed after consultation with the minority leader.”

But McCarthy had his chance to nominate picks to the committee. Some of his picks were accepted by Pelosi and others were denied. When Pelosi sent two of the nominees back—including Trump stalwart Jim Jordan—McCarthy, to borrow a phrase, took his ball and went home.

He ended negotiations cold and established clearly that he would not continue engaging with the committee.

The January 6 committee, as it stands today with nine members, includes seven Democrats and two Republicans.

An investigatory body was initially proposed and designed to be an independent, truly bipartisan commission. Democrats suggested splitting membership right down the middle, affording equal subpoena powers to both their party and the Republican Party.

But this proposal couldn’t muster enough support in the Senate and as such, the dreams of that commission were shut down.

Republicans continued to balk, largely, at holding any investigation at all. In the House, only two Republicans—the only two that now serve on the committee, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger—voted in favor of forming the select committee.

The House passed the resolution.

Five members of the House including McCarthy and Jordan have been hit with subpoenas for their records and depositions. The committee also sent subpoenas to Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Andy Biggs of Arizona. To a man, each have have refused to comply.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

'Master Class': A One-Act Play


Donald Trump is poolside at Mar-a-Lago, waving to guests as they go by.

GUEST #1: Mr. President!

TRUMP: See you at the fundraiser for J.D. Vance tonight. Have the steak.

GUEST #2: Stop the steal!

TRUMP: Have the steak!

An aide walks up to inform him he has a telephone call and hands him a cell phone.

AIDE: It’s Kevin McCarthy.

TRUMP: Again? Should I tape it?

He takes the phone.

TRUMP: My Kevin! You should call more.

McCARTHY: So, Mr. President, now they’ve subpoenaed me.

TRUMP: The Academy Award.

McCARTHY: I’m not accepting it.

TRUMP: Don’t go up there and slap them. You tell me, which is worse and which is more dishonest, the Oscars or the Emmys? Should have won the Emmy. A con game. An irrelevant show. Can you believe that The Apprentice lost to The Amazing Race? No credibility. Low ratings. A joke. Should have gotten it. Stolen.

McCARTHY: They want to ask me about what I said on that tape.

TRUMP: Just say it’s fake.

McCARTHY: I did already. When it came out, I said, “The New York Times’ reporting on me is totally false and wrong.”

TRUMP: You’re on the tape saying, “What Trump did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it.” And you told Liz Cheney you were going to tell me to resign. It’s on the tape.

McCARTHY: I told Fox News, “I never told the president to resign.”

TRUMP: And what else?

McCARTHY: I told Fox, “It was a conversation that we had about scenarios going forward.”

TRUMP: Kevin, you know what your problem is?

McCARTHY: But I told Fox, “What was brought to me, it said I called the president to say that – to resign. I never called the president to say ‘resign.’” Now they say I’m a liar.

TRUMP: They only believe you’re telling the truth if you’re lying.

McCARTHY: But I said I never told you to resign.

TRUMP: Don’t kid a kidder. You couldn’t lie your way out of a traffic ticket.

McCARTHY: So, what do you suggest?

TRUMP: You want some lessons, my Kevin? Let’s go to the tape. First thing, you say the New York Times reporting is wrong. Right?

McCARTHY: It’s two New York Times reporters with a tape.

TRUMP: That’s your first mistake. The tape is a phony, it’s fake, it’s made up, somebody forged it, it’s a counterfeit.

McCARTHY: Deny the tape? With my voice on it?

TRUMP: Until they’re willing to say who gave it to them, it’s a fake. And, guess what, they’ll never say where they got it, never name their source. You win, it’s a fake.

McCARTHY: And resign, asking you to resign?

TRUMP: Resign? Nobody was on that call but you and me. You tell me what you said. So, you’re not lying if I say you’re not lying. What do you think I should say? I’m your friend, aren’t I, Kevin? But there are others who are not your friends.

McCARTHY: Liz says she didn’t leak the tape.

TRUMP: Listen, Pollyanna, it’s someone else who wants to put a knife in your back, wants to shove your corpse to the gutter so they can be Speaker. It’s replacement theory. Liz can’t be Speaker. Didn’t you love it when Elise Stefanik blamed the Democrats as “pedo grifters” for the baby formula shortage? A gift for words. A girl after my own heart.

McCARTHY: Are you suggesting Stefanik leaked that tape?

TRUMP: She’s got purity of heart. Not a dropout, like, well, not personal. You know, I like Matt Gaetz. I like Marjorie Taylor Greene. Don’t forget Jim Jordan. He’s subpoenaed, too. No tapes with him so far. But Elise, she went to Harvard. If I were you, Kevin, when I sit down, I’d make sure my back is against the wall. Make sure you can see who’s coming and going.

A guest walks by.

GUEST #3: Let’s go Brandon!

Trump gives a thumbs up.

TRUMP: Get the steak!

McCARTHY: Yeah, I’ll have a steak tonight, rare.

TRUMP: Well done.

McCARTHY: Thanks.

TRUMP: I mean the steak.

McCARTHY: And I’m not going to testify.

TRUMP: If you do, they’ll refer you for perjury.

McCARTHY: Not if I tell the truth—not that I’m testifying.

TRUMP: Nobody believes you’re telling the truth unless you lie all the time. When you lie all the time, that becomes the truth. Then people will believe you. But if you tell the truth and then lie, nobody will ever believe you if you tell the truth, or believe you when you lie. And for the people who don’t believe you, if you lie all the time, they have to say that you think that you’re telling the truth—“on the one hand, on the other hand.” If you get to be “on the other hand,” that’s the truth. The pundits can say “on the one hand,” but if you’re “on the other” you’re just as true. If it’s two truths, you’re still the truth. If you lie all the time, you’re “on the other hand” at the worst, which means that it’s true. Maybe “on the one hand” is true, but maybe it’s a lie, but because of “the other hand” is true. If you lie all the time, that’s the reality, and reality is true, it’s reality, so that’s the truth, but only if you’re lying, that is, all the time.

McCARTHY: I’m trying to follow.

TRUMP: On the one hand, you said something on that tape, and on the other hand you said it’s false. Might be too late for you, my Kevin. Flunked acting. The problem is you have to lie all the time.

McCARTHY: But I am subpoenaed. If I talk and I lie, they’ll say I’m lying. What do I do now?

TRUMP: Don’t talk.

Sidney Blumenthal, former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, has published three books of a projected five-volume political life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man, Wrestling With His Angel ,and All the Powers of Earth. His play This Town, about a scandalous White House dog, was produced in 1995 by LA TheatreWorks. This is the fourteenth in his "Trump Cycle" series of one-act plays published in The National Memo, including The Pardon, Epstein's Ghost, Ivanka's Choice, Sunset Boulevard, The Exclusive, The Role Model, A Modest Proposal, The Exit Interview, The Hitler Gospel, Father Knows Best, The Gold Medal Winner, All I Want For Christmas Is Melania’s Non-Fungible Token, and Puppet Theater.

J’Accuse! Cheney Charges GOP Leadership ‘Enabled White Supremacy’

In the wake of the Buffalo, NY mass shooting that killed ten Black people, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) Monday morning leveled strong charges against the leadership of the House GOP, accusing them of enabling “white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism.”




House GOP leadership includes Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and the chair of the House Republican Conference, Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

Over the weekend, after the Buffalo mass shooting, Stefanik became the face of the Republican Party’s embrace of a white supremacist, white nationalist, far-right conspiracy theory known as the “Great Replacement Theory.” It promotes the false, baseless, and racist belief that people of color are “replacing” white Americans – often by being systematically brought into the country – to disenfranchise white voters, to take their jobs, in college admissions, and in other areas of society.

NPR reports that “Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old white male accused of killing 10 people and wounding another three in Buffalo, allegedly said in his screed that the decrease in white birth rates equates to a genocide.”

It is being investigated as “a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism.” Gendron’s 180-page “manifesto” references what he claims is the dwindling size of the white population, according to CNN.

The Washington Post reports that “Stefanik has not pushed the theory by name,” but “she and other conservatives have echoed the tenets of the far-right ideology as part of anti-immigrant rhetoric that has fired up the Republican base ahead of the midterm elections.”

A “series of Facebook ads published in September 2021 by Stefanik’s campaign committee … charged that Democrats were allowing undocumented immigrants into the United States as a ploy to outnumber, and eventually silence, Republican voters,” the Post adds, noting that Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) Sunday tweeted that Minority Leader McCarthy should be asked about it.

“Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION,” reads one of the ads, which shows a reflection of migrants in sunglasses Biden is wearing. “Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

House Select Panel Subpoenas Five Republicans, Including McCarthy

Remember last year when House GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suddenly turned against the bipartisan January 6 commission he had deputized one of his own members to negotiate?

Right. Now McCarthy is among five sitting Republican House members who have been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating January 6:

  1. Kevin McCarthy of California
  2. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania
  3. Jim Jordan of Ohio
  4. Andy Biggs of Arizona
  5. Mo Brooks of Alabama

These represent the first publicly known sitting members of Congress to be subpoenaed by the January 6 panel in what is an unprecedented move.

In January, Committee Chair Bennie Thompson of Mississippi sent McCarthy a letter indicating the committee wanted to interview him about his discussions with Donald Trump and other White House staffers surrounding the January 6 insurrection.

McCarthy flatly rejected the invitation, calling it an "abuse of power."

The subpoenaed members—all Trump henchmen—will almost certainly file legal challenges in response.

It's quite a cast of characters: Brooks has bragged about wearing body armor during his speech to the January 6 MAGA crowd; Jordan has had a number of brain malfunctions surrounding his conversations with Trump on January 6 (not to mention some interesting text exchanges with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows); and McCarthy has recently been heard in recordings with GOP leaders to have discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Surely that is just the tip of the iceberg, and committee Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming likely knew quite a lot about the rest of that iceberg even before the investigation proceeded.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

When Did Admitting A Mistake Become 'Weakness' For Republicans?

In 2002, Trent Lott of Mississippi tried, awkwardly, to make amends.

What did the then-Senate majority leader do to merit penance? Waxing poetic and perhaps feeling a bit nostalgic, Lott gave a speech honoring the 100th birthday of fellow Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, the onetime Dixiecrat who once broke off from the Democratic Party with a group of the like-minded to form the States’ Rights Democratic Party, built on segregation and steeped in white supremacy.

“I want to say this about my state,” said Lott, harking back to Thurmond’s 1948 folly. “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

First, Lott backtracked by saying he did not mean what he clearly said, calling the celebration “lighthearted.” Next, the apology, “to anyone who was offended.”

“A poor choice of words conveyed to some that I embraced the discarded policies of the past,” he said in a statement. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

He resigned as majority leader after receiving criticism mostly from Democrats but also from some Republicans, worried they might lose support of Black conservative voters for whom whistling Dixie was a step too far.I’m not sure if Lott’s motive was genuine moral growth or reading the room. But at the very least, it acknowledged that longing for the bad old days was not a good thing.

For reasons exemplary or political or both, anything that name-checked the divisive and ugly politics of Dixiecrat days of glory was seen as a drag for a politician and his or her party. This was true even when the words honored Thurmond, a longtime senator, one whose hypocrisy moved front and center when his Black daughter, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, in 2003 claimed her truth and her birthright.

Was 2002 really that long ago? In political years, apparently, yes.

Today, Lott’s apology would be seen as “weakness,” in GOP canon a deal-breaker, and his resignation a sign of capitulating to the “woke mob,” whatever that means. The savvy move would be for Lott to double down, make outraged appearances on right-wing news outlets and field as many fundraising pleas as possible.

Or, he could just deny having said the offensive words in the first place, since refusing to admit the provable, recorded truth is not only acceptable but also encouraged.

It’s not that by 2002, or at any time in American history, appeals to racial and cultural grievance — a wish by those on top that everyone else should “know their place” — had lost their ability to work.

But comparing then to now is an eye-opener for those who believe progress and justice move one way, forward. The landscape in 2022 is a reminder that the Southern strategy can morph into the tea party, which can morph into “Make America Great Again,” with hardly a tweak.

The fact of a two-term Black president doesn’t disprove that theory, and could actually be one reason for the politics of fear getting a reboot. After President Barack Obama, America elected President Donald Trump, still president of the Republican Party if not the United States of America, and his critic and slavish supplicant, Kevin McCarthy, a leader without apology, honesty or shame.

It’s become increasingly clear that House Minority Leader McCarthy — longing to change that “Minority” title to “Majority,” and seeing it within his grasp come the midterm elections — has no problem distinguishing right from wrong or truth from lies. We know that for a fact, thanks to the slow drip of tapes and reporting from New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns in advance of the official release of their book.

McCarthy’s own voice reveals this witness to the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol not only blaming Trump but also worrying that members of his own caucus would be complicit in undermining democracy and would put “people in jeopardy.”

In audio that contradicts his repeated denials, McCarthy name-checks Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama and others, citing their incendiary rhetoric and verbal attacks on congressional colleagues such as Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the same House member McCarthy would force out of leadership when she stood up to Trump’s lies and castigated his involvement in January 6.

Gaetz, of course, responded this week, using the phrase “weak men” to describe McCarthy and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican, both of whom had questioned the legality of Gaetz’s posturing.

Back then, McCarthy fretted about the rantings of Alabama Republican Rep. Barry Moore, who added the obligatory racism, with tweets about supposedly fraudulent votes in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit, and comments on the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt, on the front line of rioters. “It was a Black police officer who shot the white female veteran.”

McCarthy understood everything, including the implications of members of his party excusing insurrection and violence.

But when the political winds drifted, McCarthy bent the knee to Trump in his Mar-a-Lago Xanadu. No wonder Trump has forgiven him.

McCarthy knew and knows better — and it doesn’t matter. Party, tribe and Trump over country and the Constitution.

If McCarthy gets his wish, he might have a devil of a time keeping his GOP caucus in line, though.

To start, there’s Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, who was at the rally before the storming of the Capitol, as he is at Trump’s side whenever possible. Cawthorn is not much good at legislating but great at racking up traffic violations and toting loaded weapons into airports.

And, of course, there’s Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, so bold in her texts contemplating “Marshall law” to overturn the results of a free and fair presidential election, so timid with “I don’t remember” answers when questioned about the same under oath.

If McCarthy comes out on top in the fall, we’ll get to see how a House majority leader operates without a conscience.

In retrospect, Lott’s 2002 apology seems almost quaint, recalling a brief period when, even if you didn’t mean it, you acted as though you did, as though having character — and a soul — actually counted.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3. Her Roll Call columns won the 2022 National Headliner Award.

Biden Freed Reed From Russia — But Churlish McCarthy Won’t Say So

Wednesday brought news of a surprise prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Russia, with Russia releasing former Marine Trevor Reed as the U.S. released Konstantin Yaroshenko. The decision to make the exchange came amid the relentless advocacy of Reed’s parents and news of his deteriorating health, with President Joe Biden ultimately making the decision to trade Yaroshenko, who was convicted of drug trafficking in 2010.

Embattled House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy celebrated the news … with a noteworthy omission. “After being held captive by Russia's corrupt system since 2019, Marine Corps veteran Trevor Reed will finally be returned to U.S. soil,” McCarthy tweeted Wednesday. “Securing his freedom has been a years-long process—I am relieved for his family. I invite them all to my office to celebrate Trevor's freedom.”

Okay, Kevin. “Securing his freedom has been a years-long process,” huh? That makes it sound like you were intimately involved. But, uh, how did it ultimately happen?

Reed’s parents have answered that question: They credit Biden for saving their son’s life.

Biden has said he raised the issue with Russia “three months ago,” CNN reports, while an administration official described “months and months of hard, careful work across the U.S. government,” with outreach not only from U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan but Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Biden, and others, as well. The Richardson Center, headed by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, also served as an intermediary.

The decision to commute Yaroshenko’s sentence was Biden’s, with approval from the Department of Justice.

Biden’s focus on Reed’s case came after Reed’s parents, Joey and Paula, fought to get his attention, asking for a meeting when he visited Texas in early March and, when they were turned down, standing along his motorcade route with a sign. On a phone call afterward, Biden told them he had prayed the rosary for their son and “thinks of Trevor every day.” But when they didn’t see further action, they went and stood outside the White House with a sign about their son. By the end of the day, they were inside the White House meeting with Biden. That was March 30—before which Biden and others in his administration had talked to Russian officials about releasing Reed. He still had to make the decision to do a prisoner exchange, though.

Trevor Reed and Constantin Yaroshenko were returned to the custody of their respective countries in Turkey, and Reed arrived in the U.S. in the early hours of Thursday morning.

“We are grateful beyond words,” Paula Reed tweeted. “We actually said that we believe @POTUS saved @freetrevorreed's life by agreeing to this prisoner swap. We truly mean that!”

But Kevin McCarthy? He couldn’t unbend enough to give that tiny bit of credit for the months of work by the Biden administration. And no wonder. McCarthy has in recent days been busy groveling for Donald Trump’s forgiveness for recordings of McCarthy, in Jan. 2021, saying he was going to urge Trump to resign the presidency, and expressing what at moments sounded like real outrage at the Trump-supporting mob’s attack on the Capitol. McCarthy has gotten Trump to express public support, but praising Biden for anything, at all, however glancingly, would be the kind of tweak Trump’s ego cannot stand. So even if it was McCarthy’s instinct to acknowledge that Biden was responsible for Reed’s release—which it probably was not—there’s no way McCarthy’s current political position would allow him to do so. That’s today’s Republican Party: run by Donald Trump’s ego and the imperative to never, ever to give a Democrat credit for anything, however detached it might be from partisan policy battles.

Printed with permission from DailyKos.

GOP House Leaders Kowtow To Far Right Over McCarthy Leaks

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Minority whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) clashed with top Trump allies in a private meeting over leaked audio of the two leaders blasting far-right GOP members of Congress for their role in inciting the violent mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6, endangering other lawmakers.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tore into both leaders, describing them as “weak men” for their “sniveling calls” with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), which took place before the House GOP leadership booted Cheney from its leadership.

The New York Times published new audio clips on Tuesday in which McCarthy, on a conference call with Scalise, Cheney, Rep. Tim Emmer (R-MN), and congressional aides, voiced his worries that the statements of a far-right minority of the House GOP could incite violence.

McCarthy and other leaders discussed Gaetz, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), and other Republican lawmakers they believed posed threats to their colleagues.

McCarthy accused the congressman from Florida, Gaetz, of “putting people in danger” for calling some Republican lawmakers “anti-Trump” days after the January 6 Capitol attack. “He’s putting people in jeopardy. And he doesn’t need to be doing this. We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know, and these people came prepared with rope, with everything else,” McCarthy said.

Scalise chimed in. “It’s potentially illegal what he’s doing,” he said, speaking of Gaetz.

Gaetz fired back in a statement on Tuesday night, saying, “This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders.”

“While I was protecting President Trump from impeachment, they were protecting Liz Cheney from criticism. They deemed it incendiary or illegal to call Cheney and [GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger] ‘Anti-Trump,’ a label both proudly advertise today,” Gaetz added.

Gaetz also challenged Scalise in the private meeting to state which of his comments were “illegal,” according to NBC News.

Scalise didn’t specify any comments as Gaetz had requested. Instead, he blamed the excess information “flying around” after the insurrection for the confusion and said he was reacting to a Cheney aide who accused Gaetz of endangering her safety.

Both leaders were also challenged by another Trump loyalist, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who is battling a group of her constituents in court over her alleged role in the insurrection. Greene demanded that both leaders apologize for discussing GOP lawmakers on a private call, but neither leader apologized, per NBC.

After the meeting, Gaetz assailed Scalise again on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight.

“If you accuse someone of breaking the law, you have to say what law you think they broke and you have to present what evidence you think you have,” Gaetz fumed. “If there is no evidence, you need to acknowledge that.”

Scalise caved and met Gaetz privately after the meeting to apologize. Speaking to NBC News of the meeting afterward, Scalise said he told Gaetz that he wanted to "ratchet down the rhetoric" because members of Congress on both sides had received death threats.

"Now, clearly, those didn’t ultimately come to fruition because there were no charges that were brought, but what we were being told were some pretty alarming things — some from law enforcement, some from other members," Scalise told NBC News.

"And so I shared that with Matt. I’m sorry that those comments caused him problems because it was things that [were] conveyed to me from a number of places."