McCarthy: Trump took 'some responsibility' for Jan. 6 after event - NYT

McCarthy told Cheney he planned to call Trump to discuss a mechanism for invoking the 25th Amendment.

 US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) holds his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, US January 13, 2022.  (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS)
US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) holds his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, US January 13, 2022.
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS)

President Donald Trump acknowledged "some responsibility" for what happened the day of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy told Republican lawmakers in the days following the deadly riot, the New York Times said.

The Times on Friday cited audio it had obtained of McCarthy's January 11, 2021 call with fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives. The audio follows an earlier Times report that McCarthy told the lawmakers he planned to urge Trump to resign.

McCarthy came under fire from his own party after an audio recording showed him saying that then-President Donald Trump should resign over the January 6 US Capitol riot.

The comments, which McCarthy had denied hours before the recording emerged, could undermine his widely known ambition to become House speaker next year if Republicans take control of the chamber in November's midterm elections, as expected.

"Question for Kevin McCarthy ... how can you honestly feel ok with the lies? Yes, other people lie too, but you have claimed to fight for a higher purpose," Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Trump critic, asked Thursday night on Twitter.

"Honestly Kevin, is it worth it?"

The audio, recorded days after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and delayed certification of Democrat Joe Biden's 2020 presidential election victory, depicts a conversation between McCarthy and Representative Liz Cheney, who was ousted from party leadership weeks later over her opposition to Trump.

 US HOUSE MINORITY Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) holds a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, last month.  (credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST) US HOUSE MINORITY Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) holds a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, last month. (credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)

McCarthy told Cheney he planned to call Trump to discuss a mechanism for invoking the 25th Amendment, under which then-Vice President Mike Pence and members of the Cabinet could have removed the Republican president from office.

"The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign," McCarthy says in the recording, released on cable news channel MSNBC late on Thursday.

McCarthy's office did not respond to a query seeking comment on Friday.

The first reference to McCarthy's comments appeared earlier on Thursday in a New York Times article published as part of a forthcoming book by two Times reporters.

The Times also reported that McCarthy told other Republican leaders he wished big tech companies would strip social media accounts from party lawmakers who supported Trump's false claims of a rigged 2020 election.

McCarthy initially denied the Times account in a statement that called the reporting "totally false and wrong."

Another attack on McCarthy came on Friday from Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, a staunch Trump ally and hard-line conservative who has actively opposed Cheney -- who is running for re-election in Wyoming -- for supporting Trump's 2021 impeachment and joining the Democratic-led House committee investigating the January 6 riot.

"While I was rallying in Wyoming against Liz Cheney ... Kevin McCarthy was defending Liz Cheney among House Republicans ... you should have trusted my instincts, not your own," Gaetz said in a tweet.

McCarthy, who has also faced criticism from other hard-line conservatives within his caucus, publicly zigzagged on Trump's culpability for the January 6 riot by first saying the former president bore some responsibility for the violence -- but finally visited Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort home in Florida and posed for a photograph with him.

Republican Party is 'the MAGA party now' - Biden

US President Joe Biden took an unusually harsh swipe at his Republican opponents during Earth Day remarks on Friday, calling their party the "MAGA party," a reference to former President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

"This ain’t your father’s Republican Party,” Biden said during remarks in Seattle, as he described the difficulty in getting Republican support for his climate change and other goals in Congress.

"All you got to do is look at what’s being played this morning, about the tape that was released," Biden said, without going into specifics.

 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden stops to speak to reporters at Fort McNair Army Base in Washington, earlier this month, charging that Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and saying he’ll call for a war crimes trial. (credit: LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS) US PRESIDENT Joe Biden stops to speak to reporters at Fort McNair Army Base in Washington, earlier this month, charging that Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and saying he’ll call for a war crimes trial. (credit: LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS)

The Democratic president was referring to an audiotape made public this week that showed Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the US House of Representatives, saying that Republican then-President Donald Trump should resign over the Jan. 6, 2021, US Capitol riot.

McCarthy publicly zigzagged on Trump's culpability for the Jan. 6 riot, saying the former president bore some responsibility for the violence -- then visiting him at his Mar-a-Lago resort home in Florida.

"All kidding aside, this is a MAGA party now,” Biden added. “These guys are a different breed of cat."

Republicans who "know better are afraid to act because they know they will be primaried," Biden said, referring to primaries, or party nominating contests.

Republican officials who criticize Trump potentially risk drawing his ire or that of his supporters, and losing their positions in a primary to a challenger.