In the immediate aftermath of the deadly Capitol insurrection last year, congressional GOP leaders reportedly did not mince words when they privately vented about then-President Trump’s central role in stoking the riot.
A new book by New York Times reporters titled “This Will Not Pass,” excerpts of which were published today in the Times, details House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) expressions of outrage about Trump during private conversations with their associates days after the insurrection.
McCarthy’s outrage reportedly extended to claiming he would push Trump to resign immediately — a plan that McCarthy never followed through with.
The reported remarks present a split screen version of the GOP leaders: Both McCarthy and McConnell issued careful rebukes of Trump publicly in the wake of the insurrection, condemning his incitement of the mob that stormed the Capitol, but made more stern remarks in private.
McCarthy and McConnell ultimately backed off of taking action against Trump, however, out of fear of retribution from the former president.
McCarthy, for his part, issued a blanket denial, seeming to suggest he hadn’t been asked for comment about the book — only ahead of the excerpts appearing in the Times. He also lavished praise on Trump.
Here are some highlights the book detailed on what the congressional GOP leaders privately said about Trump in the days after the insurrection:
McCarthy characterized Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6 as ‘atrocious and totally wrong’
Days after the insurrection, McCarthy said in public remarks that Trump “bears responsibility” for the mob of his supporters who breached the Capitol on the day of joint session of Congress certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
But privately, McCarthy reportedly made apparent his disgust with Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6 during a phone call with several other top House Republicans on Jan. 8. Hours before the insurrection, the then-President told his supporters during a “Stop the Steal” rally to “fight like hell” to overturn the election results as he pushed bogus claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, and promised he would walk with them to the Capitol.
McCarthy reportedly told his colleagues on the Jan. 8 call that Trump’s conduct on the day of the insurrection was “atrocious and totally wrong.”
McCarthy directly blamed Trump for “inciting people” to attack the Capitol, pointing to Trump’s remarks at the rally that day that, he said, were “not right by any shape or any form,” according to the Times.
McCarthy claimed he was on the verge of recommending Trump resign
On Jan. 10, McCarthy reportedly spoke with House GOP leadership again — but this time, he was enraged to the point where he planned to demand Trump to step down in the waning days of his presidency.
McCarthy’s plan, which never came to fruition, came amid congressional Democrats calling for an impeachment resolution. McCarthy, at the time, reportedly told his colleagues that Democrats would have the votes to pass it.
With that in mind, McCarthy planned to call Trump to tell him it was time for him to resign.
“What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it,” McCarthy told the group, according to the Times.
As part of his plan, McCarthy would tell Trump about Democrats’ impeachment resolution, while recommending Trump to resign.
“I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” McCarthy reportedly told House GOP leaders.
McCarthy also aired grievances about far-right lawmakers in his caucus
During the same Jan. 10 conversation with House GOP leaders, McCarthy reportedly lamented that tech giants hadn’t yet booted some far-right lawmakers off of social media accounts for their incendiary comments, though Trump himself had been removed from prominent social media platforms in the aftermath of the insurrection.
Referring to far-right lawmakers such as Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who boosted election fraud falsehoods and posted offensive comments online related to the insurrection, McCarthy reportedly said “we can’t put up with that.”
“Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?” McCarthy reportedly added.
Despite McCarthy’s reported complaints of far-right lawmakers, the House minority leader has attempted to appease them in recent months in an effort to win their support for his bid for speaker if the GOP retakes the House in the midterm elections.
Last January, McCarthy reiterated his threat to boot Democrats from their committee assignments if he becomes speaker. His threat came after Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) were stripped of their committee seats last year for making social media posts musing about violence against Democratic lawmakers.
McConnell quipped that Dems would ‘take care of the son of the bitch for us’ with impeachment
Shortly after the insurrection, McConnell condemned Trump for his role in inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol.
After the GOP did not break sharply with Trump and his associates following the insurrection, McConnell reportedly predicted Trump’s impeachment was imminent.
On Jan. 11, 2021, McConnell reportedly had lunch with two of his longtime advisers, Terry Carmack and Scott Jennings. While chowing down on Chick-fil-A in Jennings’s Louisville office, McConnell predicted Trump’s imminent downfall.
“The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us,” McConnell said, referring to the imminent impeachment vote in the House, according to the Times.
Because he perceived Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6 as utterly beyond the pale, McConnell was reportedly confident that there would be a bipartisan consensus in the evenly-divided Senate to convict Trump.
“If this isn’t impeachable, I don’t know what is,” McConnell reportedly said.
In reality, McConnell’s prediction fell flat, with the Senate minority leader ultimately voting to acquit Trump of “incitement of insurrection” in the former president’s second impeachment trial.
But despite McConnell’s vote to acquit Trump, the former president has continued to attack the Senate minority leader for supposed insufficient loyalty, vowing to oust McConnell as leader if the GOP retakes the Senate in the midterm elections.
During an appearance at the RNC’s spring donor retreat last year, Trump singled out McConnell for supposedly not doing enough to defend him during the former president’s second impeachment trial.
McConnell’s reported swipe at Trump days after the insurrection appeared to have come full circle — Trump derided McConnell as a “dumb son of a bitch” during his unhinged speech at the RNC’s spring donor retreat months later.