The Slatest

Trump Reportedly Sided With Capitol Insurrectionists in Angry Call With McCarthy

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and then-President Donald Trump attend a signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House on April 24, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and then-President Donald Trump attend a signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House on April 24, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Pool/Getty Images

While rioters engulfed the Capitol on Jan. 6, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy phoned President Donald Trump. A worried McCarthy called on Trump to urge him to get his supporters under control. But Trump didn’t seem interested at first saying that it was antifa, and not his supporters who were responsible for the riot, according to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a GOP lawmaker from Washington. When McCarthy pushed back against that interpretation, Trump got angry. “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump reportedly said.

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What followed was a shouting match between Trump and McCarthy. The House Minority Leader furiously told Trump that rioters were breaking into his office. “Who the fuck do you think you are talking to?” McCarthy reportedly said. It was only hours after the violent riot had started that Trump called off his supporters after his top aides urged him to do something. “Go home. We love you. You’re very special,” Trump eventually said in a video he tweeted later that day.

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Herrera Beutler, one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, recounted the call in a statement in which she called on others to come forward and reveal what they know about what went on that day. “To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time,” she said in a statement.

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The new details about the call first reported by CNN bring to the forefront the key question of what Trump was doing and what he was thinking as his supporters forced their way into the capitol in a violent riot that ended up killing five people. “I think it speaks to the former President’s mindset,” Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, an Ohio Republican who also voted to impeach Trump last month, said. “He was not sorry to see his unyieldingly loyal vice president or the Congress under attack by the mob he inspired. In fact, it seems he was happy about it or at the least enjoyed the scenes that were horrifying to most Americans across the country.”

During the impeachment trial, Trump’s lawyers insisted that the then-president did not know that his vice president, Mike Pence, was in danger. But people close to Pence say that isn’t true. Pence’s top aides are still angry at how little Trump seemed to care about what was happening to his vice president as his supporters stormed the Capitol.

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