Rep Kevin McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell told acquaintances in the days following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building that they felt President Trump was guilty of instigating the fatal riot and pledged to remove him from politics. Kevin McCarthy’s claim would be the strongest indication yet that Mr. Trump has recognized some kind of responsibility for the mob’s death. The news comes as congressional investigators look for proof of Mr. Trump‘s involvement in a failed attempt by his supporters to prevent the formal certification of his electoral defeat in 2020. Mr. McCarthy even said he would pressure Mr. Trump to quit immediately.
Kevin McCarthy Urges Trump To Quit
But, after a few weeks, both men backed down from a full-fledged confrontation with Mr. Trump, fearing retaliation from him and his political organization. As it became evident that tough votes would place them at odds with the majority of their colleagues, their desire to act waned quickly.
Kevin McCarthy and McConnell’s private expressions of fury highlight the huge gap between what Republican leaders say about Mr. Trump in private and their public reverence for a guy whose grasp on the party has gone largely unquestioned for half a decade. The leaders’ abrupt withdrawal in January 2021 was a concession at a time of exceptional political vulnerability for Mr. Trump — may be the last and best opportunity for mainstream Republicans to retake control of their party from a leader who had sparked an insurgency against American democracy itself.
This description of Republican leaders’ deliberations in the days following the Jan. 6 assault is drawn from a new book, “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future,” which is based on hundreds of interviews with politicians and officials, as well as private conversation records.