Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly suggested Twitter and Facebook should suspend social media accounts that belong to his GOP colleagues who amplified baseless 2020 election claims that fuelled the violent attack on the US Capitol mounted by Donald Trump’s supporters.
In a call with officials days after the riots, Mr McCarthy suggested the platforms shutter their accounts as they did to those belonging to Mr Trump, who was suspended from Twitter “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” according to the company.
“We can’t put up with that,” Mr McCarthy said in a phone call on 11 January, 2021, days after the failed insurrection, according to audio and reporting from The New York Times. “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?”
It is not clear which officials Mr McCarthy referenced in the call. Mark Bednar, a spokesperson for Mr McCarthy, said the congressman “never said that particular members should be removed from Twitter” in a statement to the newspaper.
In newly released audio of the call, Mr McCarthy tells Republican officials that he “had it” with Mr Trump and would recommend that he resign – contrary to Mr McCarthy’s own statements that previous reports that he ever made such remarks were “totally false and wrong.”
Audio clips from a call on 10 January, 2021 – days after the 6 January attack on the US Capitol in attempt to reject the results of the 2020 presidential election - were published after Mr McCarthy disputed reports that he had privately suggested Mr Trump’s resignation.
The recording captures him telling Republican US Rep Liz Cheney – who would later be ousted from her leadership role within the party over her refusal to support Mr Trump – that he is “seriously thinking of having that conversation with him” as congressional Democrats prepared to impeach the president.
“It would be my recommendation you should resign,” Mr McCarthy says on the recording. “Now this is one personal fear I have. I do not want to get in any conversation about [then-Vice President Mike Pence] pardoning.”
He also told leaders that he has “had it with this guy,” in apparent reference to Mr Trump. “What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that, and nobody should defend it.”
Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, two reporters for The New York Times, shared the reporting from their forthcoming book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future. Audio also was aired on MSNBC on Thursday night.
A spokesperson for US Rep Liz Cheney said she did not obtain or leak recordings of the conversation.
The Independent has requested comment from Mr McCarthy and a spokesperson for Mr Trump.
Last year, Facebook announced that th reformer president would not be allowed to post on the platform for at least two years. A subsequent report from the company’s o oversight board criticised the platform’s decision to “impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension” against him.
Facebook will extend the restriction if it determines “there is still a serious risk to public safety.”
Meanwhile, publicly, Mr McCarthy has suggested that Twitter’s ban of the president could mean that “all conservatives voices could be next” and has criticised the company for banning a personal account belonging to far-right Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene for repeatedly violating its Covid-19 misinformation policy.