Kevin McCarthy walks back initial claims on Trump's role in Capitol riot, defending the former president

  • GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy said Trump was unaware that the Capitol siege was happening on January 6. 
  • McCarthy previously told other lawmakers that he had a heated call with Trump to call off the riot. 
  • Trump was also watching the siege unfold on TV but did not issue a statement until hours later. 
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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy defended former President Donald Trump and his role during the Capitol Riot, contradicting his initial claims of what unfolded on January 6.

During an interview on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace on Sunday, McCarthy said Trump was unaware the Capitol was being stormed until he called him and asked him to tell his supporters to stop.

“I was the first person to contact him when the riot was going on,” McCarthy said. “He didn’t see it, but he ended the call . . . telling me he’ll put something out to make sure to stop this. And that’s what he did. He put a video out later.”

“Quite a lot later and it was a pretty weak video,” Wallace said, referring to a statement put out by Trump the day of siege after most of the chaos had slowed down.

In the video, Trump continued to claim that the election was stolen and told his supporters: “We love you. You’re very special,” 

His remarks on Sunday contradict previous reports that the call between McCarthy and Trump was explosive.

During the call, McCarthy pleaded for Trump to call off the mob and said it was his supporters who were leading the mob.

“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump replied, according to lawmakers including Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who said they were briefed on the call by McCarthy after it happened. 

When pressed over whether or not Trump indeed said that to him on the call, McCarthy dodged the question. 

“No, listen,” McCarthy replied. “My conversations with the president are my conversations with the president. I engaged in the idea of making sure we could stop what was going on inside the Capitol at that moment in time. The president said he would help.” 

The insurrection left five people dead, including a police officer. 

Trump remained largely silent for a few hours as the siege went on. White House aides previously said Trump was watching cable news of the attack as it was happening as lawmakers were asking him to call it off. 

Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives for inciting an insurrection but was acquitted by the Senate. 

 

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