House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) repeatedly dodged Fox News anchor Chris Wallace’s pointed questions on Sunday about the top Republican’s Jan. 6 call with former President Donald Trump, insisting his conversations with the former president are a personal and private matter.
Towards the end of a wide-ranging Fox News Sunday interview, Wallace brought up reports about the GOP leader’s phone call with Trump that occurred just as the insurrectionist mob stormed the Capitol to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory. The Fox anchor specifically referenced Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s claims about the call.
“She said while the January 6th riot was in full force, you phoned President Trump and ask him to call off his supporters and, according to you, she said, the president responded, ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election then you are,’” the veteran anchor explained. “Is she right? Is that what President Trump said to you?”
McCarthy immediately deflected, instead claiming he was the first person Trump spoke to after the seditious crowd broke into the building and that the then-president promised him on that call that he’d do something to stop the violence.
“And that’s what he did,” the congressman added. “He put a video out later.”
“Quite a lot later and it was a pretty weak video,” Wallace retorted, referencing Trump’s statement in which he told the rioters “we love you” while still peddling the election lies that led to the riots.
“But I’m asking you specifically: Did he say to you ‘I guess some people are more concerned about the election than you are’?” Wallace once again pressed McCarthy.
“No, listen, my conversations with the president are my conversations with the president,” the California Republican replied. “I engaged with the idea that we could stop what was going on inside the capitol at that moment in time, the president said he would help.”
The Fox News Sunday moderator further grilled McCarthy on the continued investigations of the insurrection, including a congressional commission. Notably, Wallace wanted to know if McCarthy recently had specific conversations with Trump about the content of that call.
“Has the president ever reached out to you since that report came out to discuss what you and he talked about in the Jan. 6 phone call and did you say to him ‘I can’t because we are under oath’?” Wallace asked.
“No,” the House minority leader answered, prompting Wallace to wonder aloud if he was saying this never happened.
“Never happened—never even close,” McCarthy insisted.
“And if it did happen, you agree that would be witness tampering?” Wallace pushed back.
“Yeah, but it never happened,” the congressman again denied. “Never even came close. Never had any conversation like that. Never even heard that rumor before today.”
Days after the deadly Capitol riot, McCarthy said on the House floor that Trump “bears responsibility” for the violence, adding that the then-president “should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.” At the same time, while saying Trump’s actions deserved a congressional response, he declared that he didn’t support impeachment.
Just three weeks after the insurrection, however, McCarthy had already kissed and made up with Trump, visiting the ex-president at this Mar-a-Lago gold resort to discuss the future of the Republican Party.