Right in the middle of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, then-President Donald Trump defended the attackers to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), CNN reported Friday.
“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump reportedly told McCarthy.
“Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?” McCarthy responded, according to CNN.
The stunning exchange came during a phone call between Trump and McCarthy. CNN attributed the description of the call to lawmakers to whom McCarthy described the exchange afterward.
CNN reported that its sources described the call as a shouting match.
Trump’s comment reportedly came after a heated exchange between the two men during which McCarthy attempted to get Trump to call off his supporters who were laying siege to the Capitol.
In response to McCarthy’s call for help, Trump reportedly said that the people attacking the Capitol were “antifa” — short for anti-fascists — rather than Trump supporters. That lie has circulated far and wide among Trump’s allies since the attack, but it’s baseless.
McCarthy reportedly pushed back, telling Trump that the attackers were his supporters.
It was at that point that Trump said that he guessed the attackers were simply more upset about the election than the House minority leader.
One of the report’s authors, CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel, discussed the report on air Friday.
Gangel mentioned that one member of Congress who McCarthy had briefed directly on the call on Jan. 10, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), confirmed the exchange with CNN.
“That line right there demonstrates to me that either he didn’t care, which is impeachable, because you cannot allow an attack on your soil, or he wanted it to happen and was OK with it, which makes me so angry,” Herrera Beutler told CNN.
Several other Republican members told CNN that McCarthy “wasn’t shy” about the exchange, Gangel said.
Herrera Beutler was among 10 Republicans in the House who voted to impeach Trump last month. McCarthy voted against impeachment.