McCarthy on Post-Jan. 6 Tape: Removing Trump by 25th Amendment ‘Takes Too Long’
Leaked recording of a call with top House GOP colleagues
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot that removing President Trump through the 25th Amendment “takes too long,” according to a leaked recording of a call with top House GOP colleagues.
McCarthy, who is aiming to be speaker if Republicans win the House majority in November, also said that what Trump did was “atrocious and totally wrong” but expressed opposition to impeachment on the call.
The call recording is part of a series revealed in recent weeks by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns and reported in their new book, “This Will Not Pass.”
In the Jan. 8, 2021 recording revealed Wednesday described as a “House Republican expanded leadership call,” a House GOP staff member said that Democrats were divided strategically about what to do, adding that one option was removal through the 25th Amendment.
“That takes too long too. It could go back to the House, right?” McCarthy said.
The 25th Amendment provides a mechanism for the vice president and a majority of the president’s Cabinet to remove him if he “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
But the president can object to that assessment, sending the issue to Congress, which could then remove the president by a two-thirds vote of both chambers. Trump was set to leave office less than two weeks after the call.
McCarthy also expressed opposition to impeaching Trump, noting that Biden’s Cabinet nominees would be stalled in the Senate while the chamber conducted an impeachment trial.
“The only best way, I think, for everybody as Americans moving forward is to focus on the future, not the past, trying to bring us together,” McCarthy said.
“And I do think the impeachment divides the nation further and continues the fight even greater.”
McCarthy said he wanted to reach out to then-President-elect Joe Biden for a meeting.
“I actually think he personally would be stronger above it to actually say something to that extent, ‘I want to move the country forward,'” McCarthy said.
The GOP leader also appeared to condemn Trump’s actions relating to Jan. 6.
“What the president did was atrocious and totally wrong,” McCarthy said.
That is in line with some of his public statements at the time. Speaking on the House floor in opposition to impeaching Trump on Jan. 13, 2021, the GOP leader said that Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.”
Some of McCarthy’s most recent comments were previously reported by the New York Times, but the audio of the call was released on Wednesday.
Previously released recordings from around that time revealed McCarthy telling House GOP leaders that he would recommend to Trump that he resign and that members such as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) were “putting people in jeopardy” with statements criticizing other members.
McCarthy initially denied making the statement about recommending to Trump that he resign before the audio was revealed backing up the Times’s reporting.
He later said that he never actually told Trump to resign and said that House GOP leaders were weighing different scenarios.
The revealed comments did not prompt backlash from Trump.
“I think it’s all a big compliment, frankly,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal after audio of the call was released.
“They realized they were wrong and supported me.”
McCarthy met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Monday, The New York Times reported.
Republican House members also embraced and defended McCarthy after the leaked tapes were revealed, giving him a standing ovation at a House GOP conference meeting last week.