House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) claimed Monday that he didn’t lie last week when he knowingly denied a true story.
The New York Times reported that McCarthy was so mad at President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol that he said he would tell Trump to resign. McCarthy then denied the story, only for the reporters to prove it right with a recording of his remarks.
In his first interview since the story broke, McCarthy sidestepped a question about his private suggestion that Trump should resign by noting that he never followed through with it.
“I never told the president to resign,” McCarthy said during a live Fox News interview from Eagle Pass, Texas, where a Republican delegation had traveled to highlight border security. “It was a conversation that we had about scenarios going forward.”
McCarthy then pivoted to the border. “Our border is not secure,” he said, rattling off statistics about attempted border crossings and fentanyl.
But Fox News reporter Bill Melugin persisted, asking McCarthy if he had lied when he called the Times story “false and wrong” even though it had been proven accurate.
McCarthy responded by suggesting he was only denying that he had directly told Trump to resign.
“What was brought to me, it said I called the president to say that – to resign,” McCarthy said. “I never called the president to say ‘resign.’ He and I have a very good relationship as we go through.”
But nobody ever claimed that McCarthy had told Trump to resign. The story was that McCarthy told members of the House Republican leadership team on Jan. 10, 2021, that he might call the president and tell him to resign rather than face a possible impeachment and removal from office.
“I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” he said he would tell Trump, according to the recording.
McCarthy is suggesting that Times reporters told him before the story came out that it would say he told the president to resign. But he still called the story “totally false and wrong” even after it came out, meaning he knew it described him speaking to his colleagues, not Trump.
The California Republican may have made one true statement about the whole episode on Monday ― when he said he has a “good relationship” with Trump. The ex-president has made it clear he appreciates how McCarthy goes to such lengths to stay in his good graces after having blamed Trump for the riot.
“I think it’s all a big compliment, frankly,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Friday.