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Former President Donald Trump said in a Friday interview that he and Kevin McCarthy remain on good terms — despite the recent reports revealing the House minority leader planned to ask him to resign following the Capitol riot.
While admitting he wasn’t pleased when he heard McCarthy’s comments, Trump cleared the air about their relationship in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, where he also said McCarthy ultimately never called him to push for his resignation.
The former president said McCarthy resumed his support for Trump “when he found out the facts,” a few weeks after the Jan. 10, 2021 call between House Republicans.
“He made a call. I heard the call. I didn’t like the call,” the ex-president told the newspaper from Mar-a-Lago.
“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 added, pointing to a spot in the room where Mr. McCarthy and Trump had posed for a photo together in late January, confirming the president’s leadership in the GOP.
“I think it’s all a big compliment, frankly,” Trump said of party members who criticized him after Jan. 6, but ultimately decided to back him. “They realized they were wrong and supported me.”
In the audio released on Thursday, McCarthy can be heard speaking with Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and other Republicans on Jan. 10 about how the president should handle the fallout of the events of Jan. 6 and the likelihood of a successful impeachment.
“Now, this is one personal fear I have,” the minority leader says. “I do not want to get into any conversation about Pence pardoning.”
“Again, the only discussions I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” he goes on. “I mean that would be my take, but I don’t think he would take it – but I don’t know.”
McCarthy added that he did not think the president would listen to his advice, saying “From what I know of him, I mean you guys all know him too – do you think he’d ever back away?” McCarthy says. “But what I think I’m going to do is I’m going to call him.”
McCarthy initially responded to the New York Times report by claiming it was “totally false and wrong.” Hours later, the paper released the audio backing their report, which was also played on MCNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” On Friday, more audio obtained by the New York Times was released, this time by CNN.
Liz Cheney (R-WY) on Friday denied that she had leaked the audio to the press.
McCarthy has not publicly addressed the audio since it was released and reportedly spoke with the former president Thursday evening, the Washington Post reported.
In the audio released on Friday of a second call with GOP leaders on Jan 11, McCarthy told colleagues that Trump “told me he does have some responsibility for what happened,” on Jan. 6, which Trump flatly denied Friday.
“No, that’s false. I never claimed responsibility,” Mr. Trump said in the interview.
According to the Journal, McCarthy has been making phone calls to GOP colleagues confirming that he and Trump still have a good relationship.
Trump told the paper that he still would still support the House Minority Leader, who is currently up for reelection.
“Well I don’t know of anybody else that’s running and I think that I’ve had actually a very good relationship with him,” Trump told The Journal. “I like him. And other than that brief period of time, I suspect he likes me quite a bit.”