Kevin McCarthy lies about lying
Also: Marjorie Taylor Greene's "Marshall law" text is at tension with her testimony.
Beneath his aw-shucks demeanor, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is a slippery dealer who knows no higher purpose than personal ambition and partisan gain. The way he stacked lies upon lies during a Monday interview with Fox News is remarkable.
McCarthy was caught in one of his many lies last week, when the New York Times released audio of him saying on a House Republican leadership call on January 11, 2021, that he planned to have a conversation with then-President Trump and recommend he resign for his role in the January 6 insurrection. McCarthy has repeatedly denied doing exactly this.
“The only discussion I would have with him is that I think [a 25th Amendment resolution] will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” McCarthy can be heard saying in the audio recording. “I mean, that would be my take.”
Obviously, even though he felt differently privately, McCarthy is cynical and dishonest and, with the exception of a single floor speech one week after the insurrection, has spent the 15 months following that call trying to blame everybody but Trump for the insurrection. But he’s also just a liar.
Just ahead of that audio being released, both McCarthy and his spokesman, Mark Bednar, made statements denying McCarthy had said the very thing he was recorded saying. McCarthy tweeted a statement saying the Times’ reporting “is totally false and wrong,” and Bednar claimed to the Times that McCarthy “never said he’d call Trump to say he should resign.”
Rachel Maddow went through the whole chain of events on her show last week.
On Monday, McCarthy responded to getting caught in the most on-brand way possible — by lying about lying.
Asked by Fox News during his latest pilgrimage to the southern border if he stands by the comments he made in the audio recording, McCarthy again tried to undercut the Times’ reporting, saying, “look, I never told the president to resign.” The Fox reporter followed up by referencing the disconnect between McCarthy’s denial and the audio, and asked him, “did you lie?”
McCarthy responded with more dishonesty.
“No, because what was brought to me said I called the president to say, uh, to resign. I never called the president to say to resign,” he said.
Note that McCarthy is denying something different than what the Times actually reported and what the audio recording proves he said. The Times said McCarthy told other Republicans he planned to ask the president to resign, not that he actually followed through and did so. But instead of taking a richly deserved L, the House Republican leader misrepresented what the reporting actually said, told everyone he was just a victim of the liberal media, and then changed the topic to bashing Biden as quickly as possible. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, Fox didn’t press the issue.
It’s shameless stuff that would be bigger news if McCarthy didn’t already have a well-earned reputation as a dishonest broker. Given the state of his party and his ambition to be House Speaker, McCarthy appears to be calculating that lying about lying will do less damage to him than admitting the truth — that for a brief moment following the January 6 insurrection, he actually considered doing the right thing.
Marjorie Taylor Greene’s bombshell text
On Monday, CNN published excerpts of 2,319 text messages received and sent by then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows between the 2020 election and Joe Biden’s inauguration — the full trove Meadows turned over to the January 6 committee. One message from Marjorie Taylor Greene stands out to me as easily the most significant.
First, some background: We tend to think that the Trump coup attempt culminated on January 6, 2021, when Trump assembled his supporters in Washington, DC, whipped them into a frenzy during the “Stop the Steal” rally outside the White House, and sent them over to the US Capitol, where they attacked Congress in a last-ditch effort to disrupt the electoral vote count. But 11 days later — just three days before Biden’s inauguration — Greene texted Meadows and floated the idea of Trump declaring “Marshall [sic] law.” (“Marshall law” became a trending topic on Twitter yesterday.)