“My Kevin.” That’s what disgraced former president Donald Trump has called House minority leader Kevin McCarthy—and there’s no indication he’s given up possession of the GOP toadie. Although even I thought, briefly, that might change after tapes emerged last week of McCarthy telling House GOP colleagues in the wake of the January 6 insurrection that he was considering asking Trump to resign. Since the audio came out, a senior Republican aide called McCarthy “a bald-faced liar” to Politico, since he’d insisted that never happened. But “bald-faced liar” is a term of endearment to Trump, who lied his way to business fame and to the White House.
To recap: New York Times writers Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns reported last week that McCarthy told colleagues soon after January 6 that “he would push Trump to resign immediately,” as recounted in their new book, This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future. After McCarthy told reporters the story was “totally false and wrong,” the pair released audio of him doing just that: “I mean, you guys all know him, too—do you think he’d ever back away? But what I think I’m going to do is I’m going to call him.… The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this [impeachment resolution] will pass and it would be my recommendation you should resign.”
On Monday, McCarthy lied again, on a trip to the Mexico-Texas border designed to distract the media from his other lying. First, he dissembled to a Fox News reporter asking about the conflicts between McCarthy’s public statements about Trump and the tapes. “Look, I never told the president to resign. It was a conversation about scenarios.” But the question wasn’t whether he told Trump, to his face, to resign, but whether he’d told other Republican leaders that was the best “scenario” and that he was pondering it.
McCarthy went on: “That’s not really what’s critical, what happened 15 months ago, it’s what’s happening on this border right now. We now have enough fentanyl in America to kill every American seven times over—and it’s actually doing it.”
(Whoa, Kevin: You’re still talking, that dude’s still reporting, and I’m still writing—that’s pretty good evidence that we haven’t been killed by fentanyl even once, let alone seven times over, unless we live in a zombie apocalypse, which is possible.)
The Fox reporter persisted, noting that before the tape came out McCarthy called the New York Times reporting “false and wrong,” and adding, “Did you lie?”
“No, I never called the president to say he should resign. He and I have a very good relationship.” Again, that wasn’t the question. And later, in a brief conversation with other reporters, he was called on it by an unidentified woman who reminded him “that’s not what was reported.… they reported you told your fellow House Republicans that you were advising Trump to resign.” Once again, McCarthy pretended the issue was whether he told them he had asked Trump to resign, spewed some gibberish, and added, “You’ll have to ask them, and the answer is no.”
I could probably do this all day, but life is short. McCarthy is indeed a “bald-faced liar,” and a habitual liar, but he’s not a good one. Even standing with allies and Border Patrol agents Monday, he looked small, like a little boy telling howlers to his teacher to get out of trouble. The thing is, McCarthy’s lies likely will get him out of trouble, at least with Trump. By all reports, Trump is unfazed by McCarthy’s falsehoods, though probably preferring that he’d lie a little bit more convincingly.
Still, McCarthy is debasing himself, time and again, to stay in Trump’s good graces. That’s why Trump told The Wall Street Journal: “I heard the call,” Trump said. “I didn’t like the call.… But almost immediately as you know, because he came here and we took a picture right there—you know, the support was very strong.” (He’s referring to McCarthy’s January 28 trip to Mar-a-Lago to grovel, immortalized by what looks like a hostage photo of the pair standing side by side.)
So far, at least, to Trump he’s still “My Kevin,” which reminds me of “My Pillow,” wing nut conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell’s atrocious product. McCarthy has again proven himself to be an ally upon which Trump can lay his head, or anything else he wants, in peace.