House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is said to have had a tense phone call with President Donald Trump on Monday in which he told the president the election was "over."
Two sources told Axios that Trump said the Capitol insurrection was the work of antifa and that McCarthy responded: "It's MAGA. I know. I was there."
McCarthy, a longtime Trump supporter, formally objected to the election certification in Arizona after the Capitol siege.
The California representative is now arguing against impeachment, saying it "would only divide the country more."
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is said to have had a difficult phone call with President Donald Trump on Monday in which he said Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election was "over."
McCarthy apparently grew exasperated after the president continued to complain about election fraud.
An anonymous White House official told Axios that the California congressman interrupted: "Stop it. It's over. The election is over."
McCarthy is also said to have taken the president to task during the 30-minute call for blaming last Wednesday's insurrection at the US Capitol on leftists in disguise.
"It's not antifa - it's MAGA," McCarthy told Trump, according to two Axios sources. "I know. I was there."
Trump and some of his followers have baselessly claimed that the Capitol breach was led by antifa members impersonating Trump supporters. The FBI has categorized antifa - an umbrella term for groups that confront neo-Nazis and white supremacists - as an ideology, not an organization.
There has so far been no convincing evidence to support the notion of involvement by antifa. Many of the Trump supporters at the riot livestreamed themselves as it was happening, and scores of well-known figures were easily identifiable.
Yet Trump allies quickly began speculating. On Thursday, just hours after the Capitol insurrection was quelled, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida told his fellow members of Congress that "some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters" but instead "were masquerading as Trump supporters and in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa."
Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona made similar comments on Twitter, arguing that the insurrection had "all the hallmarks of an antifa provocation," though the FBI found "no indication" that members of antifa were in any way involved in the violent uprising.
In a letter sent to his Republican colleagues on Friday, McCarthy said there was "undisputedly" no evidence of antifa's involvement and expressed frustration with the way the crisis had been handled.
"Having spoken to so many of you, I know we are all taking time to process the events of that day. Please know I share your anger and your pain," he wrote.
He stopped short, however, of encouraging Trump's impeachment, arguing on Twitter that "impeaching the President with just 12 days left will only divide our country more."
McCarthy has been a staunch supporter of Trump's and repeatedly and baselessly claimed that Trump had won the 2020 election.
On January 3, McCarthy told The Hill he supported challenges to Biden's election.
"I think it's right that we have the debate," he said. "I mean, you see now that senators are going to object, the House is going to object - how else do we have a way to change the election problems?"
Following Wednesday's rioting, McCarthy was among the GOP House members who voted to reject certification of Arizona's election results, a measure that did not pass.
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