In the upcoming book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future, private conversations between congressional Republicans in the days after January 6th about the best way to deal with then-President Trump for his role in the Capitol riot are revealed. Co-authors Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns of the New York Times sifted through interviews, recordings, and documents, putting together a comprehensive look at the mindset of the GOP, which ranged from anger to disgust and frustration with then-President Trump. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) separately, but equally, looked for ways to deal with Trump for his actions that day in their communications with Republican colleagues and advisors.
McCarthy called Trump’s behavior on January 6th “atrocious,” describing his actions as “unacceptable” and “indefensible.” He reportedly told a group of GOP leaders, “I’ve had it with this guy.”
Both men would contemplate the possibility of the 25th amendment being invoked but decided it wasn’t practical. Chatter from the Democratic side of the aisle about impeachment seemed to give to top two Congressional Republicans hope that Dems would do the dirty work for them.
McCarthy said he would tell Trump “I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation that you should resign.” This presents a stark difference from the lukewarm criticism McCarthy had for Trump publicly, only managing to say that Trump “bears responsibility” for the actions of his supporters that day.
House Republican Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) suggested — privately, of course — that the party should look to a “post-Trump” existence, and Rep. Tom Temmer (R-MI), brought up censure as an option. But Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH) knew that neither of these would fly with the MAGA base. Instead, he suggested utilizing the evergreen distractions – Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden.
Over lunch on January 11th, McConnell told his long-time advisors, Terry Carmack and Scott Jennings that “The Democrats are going to take care of that son of a bitch for us.”
But as the week post-January 6th went on, it became clearer that Donald Trump was even more popular with his base after the insurrection than before. And both men would change their tunes. Kevin McCarthy had his eyes set on the coveted Speaker of the House position and knew he would need those on the ever-growing fringe of the party if he had even a hope of a chance.
His spokesperson, Mark Bednar, would deny McCarthy ever contemplated the 25th amendment, resignation, or social media bans for members of the radical right.
McConnell on the other hand, secure in his position in the Senate, never misses an opportunity to hedge his bets. After Trump was impeached in the House, rhetoric amongst the Republican-controlled Senate let McConnell know that the Senate would fall short of the 17 GOP votes needed to convict – only a handful of the Republican Senators voted with the Democrats – so he pivoted. A consensus among Republicans was to push the narrative that it would be improper to impeach a president no longer in office.
Of course, this leaves out the fact that the GOP stalled the impeachment until after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
After Trump’s acquittal, McConnell delivered a scathing speech on the Senate floor, calling January 6th “a disgrace,” and placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of the former president.
Here’s an excerpt from McConnell’s speech:
“Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty. The House accused the former president of, quote, ‘incitement.’ That is a specific term from the criminal law. Let me put that to the side for one moment and reiterate something I said weeks ago: There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”
Many wondered how McConnell — if he truly felt Trump was responsible — could vote to acquit. Well, the answer is simple – politics. McConnell said as much. Quoted in the book, the Senate Minority Leader leaves no doubt as to his motivation or reasoning when he says:
“I didn’t get to be leader by voting with five people in the conference.”
Hypocrisy and political expediency are the hallmarks of a Republican Party so desperate for power that morals and democracy no longer matter to them.
Original Source: Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns at The New York Times
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