January 6 Comes for Kevin McCarthy

January 6 Comes for Kevin McCarthy

He won’t become House speaker even though he absolved Donald Trump of the insurrection.


Poor Kevin. Or “my Kevin,” as Donald Trump once called him.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy was scared shitless as hundreds of feral wing nuts stormed the Capitol building two years ago today. He called then-President Donald Trump for help, but got none. “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said, according to many lawmakers briefed about the call by McCarthy.

Trump, then and now, insisted that his electoral victory had been stolen from him. McCarthy knew that wasn’t true. But just remember this: Even after he was horrified by the Capitol assault, McCarthy was among the 143 GOP members who voted to overturn the election results anyway.

We know, thanks to the January 6 committee, that he talked trash about Trump in the days that followed. “I’ve had it with this guy,” he told a group of Republican leaders. As The New York Times reported last year:

On a phone call with several other top House Republicans on Jan. 8, Mr. McCarthy said Mr. Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6 had been “atrocious and totally wrong.” He faulted the president for “inciting people” to attack the Capitol, saying that Mr. Trump’s remarks at a rally on the National Mall that day were “not right by any shape or any form.”

“What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it,” he told the group.

But then, as we all know, he slithered down to Florida and made Trump whole.

I’m not saying—I can’t say, because I don’t know these sad creatures—that McCarthy would be speaker if he chose one course or the other. Denounced Trump for the insurrection we know he fomented? Or hey, joined the party and put down his marker with the insurrectionists? Which he’s basically done since.

He is playing some weird inside game I can’t understand. And that I believe he is going to lose. Soon.

But I do have to say: Two years ago, I was up most of the night covering the astonishing victory of the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who became a Georgia senator. I went to sleep. Then I got a call from a friend telling me Jon Ossoff had won his Senate seat too. I wandered into the living room and turned on the TV. There was nothing about Ossoff; there were people climbing up the sides of the Capitol.

Oh, also: It was my daughter’s first day at work there. I’m a working-class Irish Catholic girl; my family hasn’t had anyone work in the Capitol ever. I knew she’d be fine because she’s always fine, but I will never forget that. I’m still furious.

President Biden is going to mark the occasion with a speech. Kevin McCarthy is going to mark the occasion by losing again, I believe. Stay tuned.

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