Speed Reads

can he still become speaker?

Kevin McCarthy defends Jan. 6 comments about Trump resignation

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) defended himself against criticism from the hardline Trumpist wing of his party on Wednesday after audio recordings of comments he made following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot were released last week, The Washington Post reports.

McCarthy, who is angling to become Speaker of the House if Republicans reclaim the chamber in November, said at a meeting with top Republicans in the days after the riot that he'd "had it with" then-President Donald Trump and that he planned to advise Trump to resign, according to excerpts from a new book by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns.

McCarthy denied the report, but an audio recording featured the minority leader discussing plans to tell the then-president "it would be my recommendation you should resign." 

Fox News host Tucker Carlson blasted McCarthy, calling him a Democratic "puppet," and urging conservatives to "get their act together" to prevent McCarthy from becoming speaker. Lawmakers like Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) also publicly criticized McCarthy this week over the recording.

At a meeting with House Republicans on Wednesday, McCarthy told lawmakers he "was merely engaging in a 'conversation of scenarios' about Trump," reports the Post.

Gaetz reportedly stood up to castigate McCarthy, but most attendees responded to his speech with a standing ovation.

According to the Post, Trump has so far been "willing to accept McCarthy's explanations," meaning his bid for the speakership is still alive and well.