What They’re Saying: ‘McCarthy Plumbs New Depths of Political Cowardice’

May 19, 2021
Blog

This week, Minority Leader McCarthy rejected a bipartisan compromise negotiated by one of his own ranking committee members in a brazen attempt to hide the truth about the January 6th violent insurrection at the Capitol.

It’s safe to say that people noticed. 

Some of the highlights of McCarthy’s decision to side with January 6th deniers:

Washington Post Editorial: Opinion: Kevin McCarthy plumbs new depths of political cowardice

Democratic and Republican negotiators agreed last week to create a high-level, expert commission with subpoena power to conduct an examination of the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion, one of the lowest moments in U.S. history. But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday threw his negotiators under the bus, condemning the compromise and vowing to oppose the bill creating the commission when it comes to a House vote Wednesday. This is cowardice, distilled.

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An honest proceeding would also require Mr. McCarthy to testify under oath about his eyewitness experience of the violence — and to then-President Donald Trump’s apparent indifference. Mr. McCarthy has resisted offering the public a frank accounting of his interactions with Mr. Trump, including on a phone call during which Mr. McCarthy reportedly begged Mr. Trump to stop the mob. Mr. McCarthy has concluded that whatever political benefits he receives from embracing Mr. Trump are worth the price of his integrity.

The more Mr. McCarthy and other Republicans try to minimize the insurrection’s significance, the more they encourage the lies on which it was based; the more they instill the sense, widespread on the right, that the other side is at war with them, so they must fight back; and the more they invite the riot’s repetition — perhaps not in the now-locked-down Capitol, but maybe at statehouses, county commission offices, vote-counting locations or other civic institutions.

Jake Tapper, CNN

“Kevin McCarthy, and Steve Scalise, and the new Conference Chair of the House Republicans - Elise Stefanik - all three of them spread the ‘Big Lie’ about the election….So they are in one way or the other complicit in the ‘Big Lie’ that was part of the insurrection, part of what fueled the attack. I can only just say as - you know a human being - if somebody attacked my workforce, I would want to know every single thing about it.”

WATCH

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CNN: The real reasons for why Kevin McCarthy is afraid of a January 6 commission

McCarthy has drawn the conclusion that there is no path to the House majority in 2022 that doesn't run through total and complete support for Trump. And, selfishly, that the best way for him to ensure that he will be the choice for speaker if and when Republicans win the majority is to stand in total opposition to anything that tries to put blame for January 6 insurrection on Trump.

Combine those two factors and you see why McCarthy was willing to totally and publicly undermine Katko in support of both his personal and political ambitions. It's transparent, yes. But McCarthy is playing hardball to keep his political career on track.

Los Angeles Times: Editorial: Kevin McCarthy’s opposition to a Jan. 6 commission is a new low

After acknowledging that then-President Trump bore responsibility for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol by his supporters, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy soon reverted to the apparently more comfortable role of Trump acolyte and apologist.

In explaining his opposition to the proposed legislation, McCarthy offered a grab bag of unconvincing arguments. He complained about “political games” by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), suggested that a commission would duplicate investigations being conducted by congressional committees and warned that its probe might somehow interfere with criminal prosecutions.

But McCarthy’s most revealing argument is his claim that the proposal for a Jan. 6 commission “ignores the political violence that has struck American cities, a Republican congressional baseball practice, and, most recently, the deadly attack on Capitol Police on April 2, 2021.”

This is not a new talking point for McCarthy — he made similar comments in April — but it’s cynical whataboutism. None of the events he mentioned are remotely comparable to an assault on the Capitol seeking to reverse the results of a presidential election.

Politico: McCarthy races to contain GOP defections on Jan. 6 commission

McCarthy’s mixed signals are likely a product of his efforts to appease the various factions in his party, particularly the right flank. But the GOP leader has upset several members, who feel McCarthy hung Katko out to dry and now feel even more inclined to rally around Katko and his commission proposal.

Jamie Gangel, CNN

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The Nation (Op-Ed Joan Walsh): Kevin McCarthy Sinks Even Lower

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has done it again: He’s disgraced himself in service to twice-impeached former President Donald Trump. This time, he’s officially come out against a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 violent insurrection, even after one of his own GOP allies negotiated a compromise deal that should have satisfied most of McCarthy’s prior objections (that’s what a compromise is, and if you get most of what you want, you go for it).

McCarthy’s move today, just like his vote to strip Cheney of her leadership position last week, proves that Republicans like them, and the other eight impeachment supporters, are at the far fringe of the party—we can call it the non-lunatic fringe, but that doesn’t make it any stronger. The GOP House leader has proven that his is the party of AOC-stalking, gun-toting Marjorie Taylor Greene and Florida man Matt Gaetz, who is under federal investigation for possible sex crimes and fraud. Anyone hoping that Katko’s compromise signaled the emergence of a saner GOP got stripped of that hope on Tuesday. As they do on pretty much any day ending in Y.

Garrett Haake, NBC News

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MSNBC: Kevin McCarthy's Jan. 6 cowardice puts Congress in danger

In his attempt to scuttle the deal, negotiated between the chair and the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, McCarthy probably thought he was doing what was best for his members. But in blocking an examination of what happened on Jan. 6, he and his counterparts are declaring former President Donald Trump's feelings more important than their own well-being. Moreover, they're leaving the doors to the Capitol open for another — and perhaps more successful — attempt to subvert democracy through violence.

Jake Sherman, Punchbowl News

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Washington Post: Opinion: Kevin McCarthy proves Liz Cheney’s point

McCarthy’s cowardly position betrays his own members, shows he will continue to put MAGA obedience above truth and democracy, and reminds the country why it would be dangerous to make him speaker. Part of his motivation is likely attributable to his own role as a witness. Unless he perjures himself or refuses to testify (risking a contempt finding), he will have to testify about a phone call on Jan. 6 in which he failed to persuade the outgoing president to rescue the Capitol. (Cheney has made clear that McCarthy should testify and added that she hopes he will do so without a subpoena.) The phone call indicts both people in that conversation — the president for refusing to perform his duties and McCarthy in covering up that salient point.

McCarthy may also be nervous that the commission will confirm that multiple members of the House may have played a more serious role in provoking the assault than previously known. We know Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) participated in the rally provoking the crowd. Allegations have also swirled that other Republican members gave tours of the Capitol to insurrectionists ahead of the attack. And, of course, a majority of House Republicans plus a batch of Senate Republicans sought to overthrow the electoral college results — even after the insurrection.

CNN: McCarthy won't support January 6 commission and sides with Republicans downplaying the insurrection

McCarthy's opposition to the agreement raises questions about the GOP leader's role in the events at the Capitol on January 6, as he had a heated phone conversation with Trump as the insurrection was unfolding.

Betsy Klein, CNN

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Esquire: Kevin McCarthy Is a Disgrace to His Forebears

The insistence on blatantly diverting the commission’s mandate away from Republican complicity in the insurrection—and, it is not unreasonable to speculate, his own complicity as well—and using conservative bogeymen as smokescreens is a dead giveaway.

But the most compelling part of the story is McCarthy’s abject political cowardice in the face of the loonier members of his caucus. I mean, when Rep. Matt Gaetz leaps to the electric Twitter machine to say you’ve done the right thing, it’s time to rethink your entire public career.