Kevin McCarthy's lies about Donald Trump and Jan. 6 overshadow border trip

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'Authoritarians don't come to power alone. They come to power on the backs of men like Kevin McCarthy,' Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) tweeted on Friday.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday amid Republicans' ongoing opposition to President Joe Biden's decision to lift a Trump-era rule that restricted migrants from seeking asylum in the United States because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Republican leader's publicity stunt, however, was overshadowed by his recently revealed lies about former President Donald Trump and the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection. While McCarthy previously said he didn't want Trump to resign in the aftermath of the riots, an audio recording of the Republican House leader released by the New York Times last week contradicted his claims.

McCarthy tried to deflect questions about his newly leaked comments on Monday by focusing on the border issue in an apparent stunt from the Republicans, who are trying to stoke voters' fears about immigration ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

"I never told the President to resign, it was a conversation that we had about scenarios going forward," McCarthy said on Monday during his border trip.

But in the leaked audio recordings, McCarthy was captured telling his Republican colleagues that he planned to tell Trump he should step down from the presidency in the wake of the U.S. Capitol attack.

The audio was obtained by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns during the reporting of their new book, "This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America's Future." The book details several private conversations between Republicans talking derisively about the former president.

According to the book, McCarthy told Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) that he believed the Senate was likely to convict Trump after the House impeached him.

"The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this [impeachment resolution] will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign," McCarthy was heard saying in the audio. "I mean, that would be my take. But I don't think he would take it. But I don't know."

Last Thursday, the New York Times reported that McCarthy, along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, told Republican lawmakers they believed Trump was responsible for inciting the deadly riot, which left at least five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. In addition, at least four law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol during the riots committed suicide in the days and months following the attack.

McCarthy denied the New York Times' reporting in a Twitter post on Thursday, claiming it was "totally false and wrong." McCarthy's spokesperson, Mark Bednar, told the newspaper that "McCarthy never said he'd call Trump to say he should resign."

But the audio released Thursday night captured McCarthy saying that Trump acknowledged he bore "some responsibility" for the attacks on the U.S. Capitol, and suggesting that Trump should consider resigning.

The New York Times' report has thrown national Republican leaders into a state of disarray as they contend with Trump's lasting impact on their party. National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Emmer — who runs the committee seeking to help House Republicans win back the House majority — appeared stymied by questions about the leaked audio tapes on Sunday during his appearance on Fox News.

Democrats have responded to the story by calling out McCarthy for his lies and calling for him to be stripped of his access to classified information that he receives as a member of Congressional leadership.

"Kevin McCarthy is in the 'Gang of 8.' He has access to America's most sensitive security secrets," Swalwell tweeted on Friday. "Kevin McCarthy was just publicly proved to be a liar. What other recordings exist? He should lose his classified access. No one who lied in the private sector would get a clearance."

"Authoritarians don't come to power alone. They come to power on the backs of men like Kevin McCarthy," House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff tweeted on Friday. "Men too weak to adhere to any principle. Too hungry for power to say or do what’s right. And too cowardly to tell the truth. We deserve better."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) did not mince words during a Sunday appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," calling McCarthy "a liar and a traitor."

"They understand that it is wrong, what happened — an attempt to overthrow our government," Warren said. "This is outrageous and that is really the illness that pervades the Republican leadership right now. They say one thing to the American public and something else in private."

She added: "Shame on Kevin McCarthy.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.