Apr 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

New audio: McCarthy worried GOP members put “people in jeopardy” post-Jan. 6

ouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) delivers remarks during the Fourth Congressional Hackathon in the auditorium of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on April 06, 2022
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy delivers remarks during the Fourth Congressional Hackathon on April 6. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy in the days after the Capitol riot feared that comments made by far-right members of Congress were "putting people in jeopardy," according to audio recordings obtained by the New York Times.

Driving the news: In a phone call with Republican leaders on Jan. 10, 2021, McCarthy specifically named certain members of his conference, including Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, for using dangerous rhetoric, per the recordings.

  • "Tension is too high, the country is too crazy, I do not want to look back and think we caused something or we missed something and someone got hurt," McCarthy said.
  • McCarthy during the phone call called out certain lawmakers, including Gaetz and Mo Brooks of Alabama, who he viewed as threatening the security of the Capitol complex and potentially other members of Congress.
  • He also called out lawmakers who made comments he saw as offensive, including Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
  • “Our members have got to start paying attention to what they say, too, and you can’t put up with that,” he said, adding an expletive, per the audio.
  • The audio recordings were obtained by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, authors of a forthcoming book, "This Will Not Pass."

Between the lines: McCarthy pivoted from his hard-lined stance during the early days after the Capitol riot and in the months since has forged a close relationship with far-right lawmakers, per the Times.

Catch up quick: Audio recordings released last week by the Times reporters also revealed that McCarthy said he planned to urge then-President Trump to resign over the Jan. 6 riot.

  • McCarthy has since denied the account, with a spokesperson saying: "McCarthy never said he'd call Trump to say he should resign."

What they're saying: Staunch Trump loyalist Gaetz issued a statement in response to the audio release, calling McCarthy "weak."

  • A spokesperson for McCarthy did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper ... Tape shows McCarthy said he would urge Trump to resign

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