McCarthy dodges, deflects Jan. 6 questions

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  • Donald Trump
    Donald Trump
    45th President of the United States
  • Kevin McCarthy
    Kevin McCarthy
    American politician
  • Nancy Pelosi
    Nancy Pelosi
    Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Calif.) addresses reporters during his weekly on-camera press conference on Thursday, January 13, 2022.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Calif.) addresses reporters during his weekly on-camera press conference on Thursday, January 13, 2022.


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday dodged and deflected questions from reporters about why he is refusing to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee about his conversations with former President Trump during and after the deadly attack on the Capitol.

In a heated news conference, McCarthy questioned why the Capitol was so ill-prepared a year ago to fend off an attack from a violent mob of Trump supporters and accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democrats of trying to politicize the Jan. 6 investigation.

Asked by The Hill whether the American people had a right to know what Trump was thinking and doing in the White House while his supporters were attacking the Capitol, McCarthy argued that he gave several media interviews detailing his call with Trump.

"I didn't wait a year later. On Jan. 6, I spoke to the American public - not by one network, but by many networks," McCarthy replied. "My conversation was very short, advising the president what was happening here" at the Capitol on that day.

"There is nothing that I can provide the Jan. 6 committee for legislation of their moving forward. There is nothing in that realm; it is pure politics."

McCarthy's press conference came just one day after the special House committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol sent a six-page letter to the GOP leader asking him to voluntarily appear before the panel.

Committee investigators specifically want to know about conversations McCarthy had with Trump and other White House officials in the days leading up to the attack, what he discussed with Trump during a phone call while the attack was underway and McCarthy's own offices were being broken into by rioters, the timing of that phone call to help determine how long Trump was aware that there was violence at the Capitol and a Jan. 11 conference call where he allegedly told House colleagues that Trump had admitted he bore some responsibility for the attack.

"You have acknowledged speaking directly with the former President while the violence was underway on Jan. 6. ... Further, you shared an account of your communications with President Trump with a local news outlet in your district, which reported that you had a 'very heated conversation' with the President as the riot was taking place, and urged the President to 'get help' to the Capitol," Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the Jan. 6 select committee, wrote to McCarthy.

"As is readily apparent, all of this information bears directly on President Trump's state of mind during the January 6th attack as the violence was underway."

Moments before McCarthy appeared before reporters, Pelosi said the Republican leader has "an obligation" to help investigators get to the bottom of the deadly attack on the Capitol.

The Speaker, however, stopped short of endorsing the idea that the special committee investigating the attack should subpoena McCarthy.

"I think he has an obligation, as we seek the truth, to help with that," Pelosi told reporters. "But it's up to the committee as to what they do next."

Mike Lillis contributed.

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