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Why Trump Could Have Tried to Save Kevin McCarthy, But Didn’t

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In late July, Politico reported that Donald Trump and then-Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy spoke regularly, and that there was one topic the former president brought up “in every call.”

Trump’s central concern was a series of votes he wanted to see in the House: He wanted McCarthy to introduce resolutions that would “expunge” the former president’s indictments.

We now know, of course, that there were no such votes — even though McCarthy offered some public support for the idea and floor action was a real possibility. Does this have anything to do with Trump’s silence when McCarthy no longer held the speaker’s gavel?

Obviously, yes. The Washington Post reported on a previously undisclosed telephone conversation between the two Republicans.

In a phone call with McCarthy weeks after his historic Oct. 3 impeachment as House speaker, Trump detailed why he refused to ask Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and other far-right lawmakers to abandon their ouster campaign. the California Republican from his leadership position. … During that call, Trump lambasted McCarthy for not overturning his two impeachments and not supporting him in the 2024 presidential campaign, according to sources familiar with the matter.

According to the report, McCarthy responded to the former president: “F— you.”

Some caveats are in order. For one, the reports have not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News. On the other hand, McCarthy could well have told his associates that he gave Trump his opinion, but whether the California congressman was as tough as he claimed remains an open question.

But if the Post’s reporting is accurate, it highlights a notable point of view.

McCarthy went to incredible lengths to curry favor with Trump – the Starbursts story remains one of my favorites – and during his tenure, the then-president enjoyed the flattering attention so much that he called the future president of the House of “my Kevin”.

As we’ve discussed, McCarthy not only spent Trump’s tenure in the White House trying to make him happy, but he maintained those efforts even after Trump’s defeat, effectively placing the former president in the role of “shadow spokesperson”.

After McCarthy took the gavel in January, he celebrated Trump. After Trump’s first criminal indictment, McCarthy condemned the charges without knowing what they were. After Trump’s first federal criminal indictment, McCarthy was so eager to defend the former president that the then-president embarrassed himself with bizarre comments about toilet locks.

It stands to reason that the former Republican Party leader believed that by showing such loyalty to Trump, McCarthy could eventually enjoy dividends from his political investments.

Except that’s not how things work with Trump. As others have learned over time, the former president views loyalty as something he is meant to receive, not give. McCarthy did not overturn the former president’s indictments, so Trump stood idly by when the then-president was kicked out of his office.

Let this serve as a lesson to other Republican political actors who count on Trump to act when it counts.

This article updates our related prior coverage.



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