House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., worried that remarks by his fellow Republican lawmakers could compromise the safety of fellow GOP members of Congress after the Jan. 6 riot, new audio recordings show. days after the attack on the Capitol.
Recordings of a Jan. 10, 2021, call obtained by The New York Times highlight the intensity of McCarthy’s private concerns about members of his own caucus at a time when his public appearances downplayed those concerns.
In the newly released audio, McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., name several Republicans in Congress whom they considered potential threats to other GOP lawmakers.
McCarthy and Scalise can be heard at one point raising concerns about Republican Representatives Mo Brooks of Alabama, who spoke at a January 6 rally before the riot, and Matt Gaetz of Florida.
“He puts people in danger,” McCarthy said of Gaetz, who criticized Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., on television after the riot. “And he doesn’t need to do that. We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know, and those people came prepared with a rope, with everything else.
Scalise further suggested that Gaetz was crossing legal boundaries.
“It’s potentially illegal what he’s doing,” Scalise said.
McCarthy also criticized Brooks, who told a pro-Trump crowd on Jan. 6 that “today is when patriotic Americans start taking names and kicking ass.”
In the recordings, McCarthy suggested that Brooks’ comments were “almost something that goes beyond what the president said.”
While Gaetz and Brooks appeared to be the focus of McCarthy and Scalise’s talks, they also raised concerns about Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Barry Moore of Alabama and Louie Gohmert of Texas.
McCarthy’s remarks on the tapes are the latest in a series of leaks, including text messages, from the period following the November 2020 election and the days surrounding the Jan. 6 riot. In an earlier recording, McCarthy said former President Donald Trump was responsible for the Jan. 6 violence and would advise the president to step down.
The new tapes will likely pose another challenge for McCarthy in his ambitions to be Speaker of the House if Republicans win control of the chamber in November’s midterm elections, as he would need the support of his caucus to occupy the highest position. Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, is also considered a presidential candidate.
Following the New York Times article, Gaetz blasted McCarthy and Scalise in a statementclaiming that the two GOP leaders “disparage Trump and the congressional Republicans who fight for him.”
“It’s the behavior of weak men, not leaders,” he said.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona, made similar remarks in an OAN interview Tuesday, saying McCarthy’s comments created “a huge trust issue” and “undermined the conference.”
Later Tuesday, Fox News personality Tucker Carlson said on his show that Republicans needed to act quickly to stop McCarthy from grabbing the president’s gavel to avoid having a “Republican Congress led by a Party puppet.” democrat”.
NBC News has reached out to McCarthy and Scalise for comment.