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McCarthy said he would urge Trump to resign after Jan. 6, new audio reveals

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy denied earlier Thursday that he had said he would recommend then-President Donald Trump step down after the Jan. 6 riot.

Just days after the Jan. 6 riot, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy told a fellow Republican lawmaker that he would recommend to then-President Donald Trump that he resign, according to audio of a call shared with MSNBC and aired Thursday night.

In the Jan. 10, 2021, call, McCarthy can be heard telling Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., that he planned to tell the president he should step down following the violent attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters.

McCarthy, R-Calif., also indicated that he thought impeachment would succeed in the House and possibly the Senate.

“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 said in audio that aired on "The Rachel Maddow Show."

The New York Times on Thursday reported the contents of the call, which is included in the coming book “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future,” by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, due out May 3.

House GOP
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming arrive for a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Sept. 23, 2020.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

McCarthy denied the Times report, calling it "totally false and wrong" in a statement on Twitter.

The Times later shared audio of the call with MSNBC.

On the call, Cheney can be heard asking McCarthy about the possibility of resignation. "Are you hearing that he might resign? Is there any reason to think that might happen?" Cheney asks.

McCarthy responds that he's "had a few discussions," adding that he was planning to call Trump later that night but was doubtful that Trump would "ever walk away."

"But what I think I’m going to do is I’m going to call him," McCarthy says.

"This, this is what I think: We know that it’ll pass the House. I think there’s a chance it’ll pass the Senate, even when he’s gone," McCarthy says, apparently referring to an impeachment resolution.

NBC News has reached out to McCarthy’s and Cheney’s offices for comment on the new audio.

On Friday, CNN aired more audio obtained by the New York Times of a conference call that McCarthy held with House Republicans on Jan. 11, 2021. McCarthy said he had spoken to Trump that day and Trump accepted some responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack.

"I’ve been very clear to the president. He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No ifs, ands or buts. I asked him personally today does he hold responsibility for what happened? Does he feel bad for what happened? He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened."

Cheney's spokesman said in a statement that the Jan. 6 committee "has asked Kevin McCarthy to speak with us about these events but he has so far declined. Representative Cheney did not record or leak the tape and does not know how the reporters got it.”

The revelations could complicate McCarthy's path to the speakership should Republicans win back control of the House in the November midterm elections. He will likely need Trump's support to secure the speaker's gavel if there's a GOP majority.

Three days after McCarthy's phone call with Cheney, he said on the House floor that Trump “bears responsibility for” the “attack on Congress by mob rioters” and “should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”

He went on to say Trump “needs to accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President-elect Joe Biden is able to successfully begin his term.”

But by the following week, McCarthy had reversed course, telling reporters, “I don’t believe he provoked it, if you listen to what he said at the rally” on Jan. 6. Days later, McCarthy met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, seeking to repair their relationship.