“The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump.”
What all of that is NOT consistent with is how McCarthy had sought to frame his words and actions on January 6 and the aftermath.
By April 2021, McCarthy was shifting his story to take the blame off of Trump.
Which is, well, not entirely accurate — even if you take at face value McCarthy’s claim that Trump knew nothing of what was happening at the Capitol until their phone call.
(Sidebar: Coverage of the looming riot was EVERYWHERE on cable throughout that day. And Trump is a massive consumer of cable news.)
McCarthy’s revised timeline — the one he has been spouting since at least last April — doesn’t sync with what we know of Trump’s actions (and inaction) that day.
“It’s been more than two hours since a chaotic mob of rioters surrounded and breached the Capitol. Despite many calls from both Republican and Democrats for President Trump to demand his supporters leave the Capitol building, the President has not yet done so.”
When Trump did finally issue a video telling rioters to disperse, it wasn’t exactly a forceful scolding. “I know your pain. I know your hurt… But you have to go home now,” Trump said in the video, adding, “We love you. You’re very special.”
Why is McCarthy doing this? Politics — pure and simple. In the days immediately following the insurrection, there was a real sense — among all but the most rabid Trumpers — that he had gone too far and that this episode would effectively be a breaking point between him and the Republican Party writ large.
But, that break never materialized. In fact, the cult of personality surrounding Trump only grew as the country got further from January 6 — to the point that poll after poll shows a majority of Republicans believe the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. (There’s zero actual evidence to back up this claim.)
That reality forced a rapid recalculation by McCarthy, who:
a) wants to be Speaker if Republicans win the House majority this fall and
b) knows he has to have the support of the former president (and Trump’s congressional allies) to make that happen.
Suddenly, Trump wasn’t to blame for what happened, but rather someone who jumped to deal with the insurrectionists as soon as he was made aware of them. That this story didn’t — and doesn’t — comport with known and accepted facts was beside the point to McCarthy. His only goal was to get back into Trump’s good graces.
Here’s the problem for McCarthy: We have the receipts. What he said in the week after the riot bears zero resemblance to what he says now. And that matters.