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Today we’re talking about Breaking: Kevin McCarthy an Even Bigger Political Hack Than Previously Thought, January 6 Edition
In May of 2021, when the House of Representatives was gearing up to vote on the formation of a committee to investigate the events surrounding January 6, GOP leader Kevin McCarthy announced that he would not support the “potentially counterproductive” and “shortsighted” effort, claiming that any probe that didn’t also look into unrelated antifa riots and protests against police brutality was a sham. In the year-plus since, McCarthy has continued to denounce the committee as some kind of treasonous, anti-American exercise; made Rep. Liz Cheney a pariah for serving as the panel’s vice chair; and suggested that no one should pay any attention to investigators’ findings. Now, as the panel gets ready to host its first prime-time hearing on Thursday night, McCarthy has only doubled down; on Thursday morning, he tweeted, “Speaker Pelosi’s Select Committee on January 6 is the most political and least legitimate committee in American history,” and, according to CNN, he will be overseeing “the targeted response”—i.e., spin, deflection, and lies—to the hearings in coordination with Donald Trump’s congressional allies. Given the House minority leader’s tenure as one of the former president’s most loyal stooges, none of this should come as a shock. But when you listen to McCarthy’s attacks on the committee today, tomorrow, and next week, keep in mind that immediately after the Capitol attack, he was all about not only getting to the bottom of what had happened but also punishing those responsible. And we know this because, like so many things McCarthy has tried to pretend he never said, it’s on tape.
On Wednesday night, CNN aired an audio clip, courtesy of New York Times reporters Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, in which McCarthy told fellow Republicans: “When they started breaking into my office, myself and the staff got removed from the office. In doing so, I made a phone call to the president telling him what was going on, asking him to tell these people to stop, to make a video and go out. I was very intense and very loud about it. We cannot just sweep this under the rug. We need to know why it happened, who did it, and people need to be held accountable for it. And I’m committed to making sure that happens.”
“Cannot just sweep this under the rug”! “We need to know why it happened”! “People need to be held accountable”! It’s almost as though McCarthy knew the seriousness of a violent mob attacking the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn a free and fair election! Which, based on his own words, he did for a brief moment before remembering the blood oath he took to let Trump get away with everything, including inciting an actual insurrection.
Of course, this isn’t the first time evidence has emerged that McCarthy briefly considered doing the right thing in the days following the attack, before thinking better of it. In April, Burns and Martin reported that in the immediate aftermath of the riot, McCarthy told colleagues—in two conversations—that Trump’s behavior on January 6 was “atrocious and totally wrong”; that Trump was at fault for “inciting people” to attack the Capitol building; that he wanted to know if there was any hope of the then president’s cabinet removing him from office via the 25th Amendment; and that he was going to advise Trump to resign. (Unsurprisingly, McCarthy denied all this, only to be proven a terrible liar when the audio of him saying exactly the things he was reported to have said emerged.)
And while all of this would be pretty mortifying for McCarthy if Republicans had any capacity for shame, the unfortunate thing is that they don’t; while most people would slink away in disgrace after being proven—time and time again!—to be a total hack, it’s just another day for McCarthy and company. On Saturday, Trump endorsed McCarthy for reelection, writing on Truth Social: “He is working incredibly hard to Stop Inflation, Deliver Water Solutions, and Hold Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi Accountable for their catastrophic failures and dereliction of duty.” Was that a thank-you for his year of undermining the January 6 committee? A down payment on his speaking out against the findings revealed tonight? Probably a bit of both! As Mother Jones’s Dan Friedman wrote on Sunday, “Trump and McCarthy seem to have struck a deal: McCarthy refrains from faulting Trump from attempting a coup, or for inciting an attack that endangered his congressional colleagues and Vice President Mike Pence. In exchange, McCarthy gets Trump’s ‘complete and total endorsement.’” If you have no principles, moral compass, or sense of right and wrong, it’s a great trade!