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- Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday took House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to task for his refusal to cooperate with the Jan. 6 investigation, saying the Republican leader has "an obligation" to help investigators get to the bottom of the deadly attack on the Capitol.
But the Speaker stopped short of endorsing the idea the select committee investigating the attack should subpoena McCarthy - a highly controversial proposal that remains under consideration - saying those decisions should be left to the panel.
"I think he has an obligation, as we seek the truth, to help with that," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. "But it's up to the committee as to what they do next."
McCarthy, a close Trump ally, has a unique window into Trump's thinking on Jan. 6 because he spoke directly with the president as a mob of Trump supporters was storming the Capitol in a failed effort to overturn President Biden's election victory. But McCarthy has declined to share details of those conversations, leading the Jan. 6 select committee to issue a request on Wednesday for his voluntary cooperation - a request McCarthy has refused.
According to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who said McCarthy briefed her on that call, the Republican leader pleaded with Trump to call off the rioters, but the president pushed back, claiming falsely that the mob consisted of leftist activists, not his supporters.
"When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol," Herrera Beutler said in a statement that was featured in Trump's second impeachment last January.
"McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters," she added. "That's when, according to McCarthy, the president said: 'Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.'"
In a press conference of his own Thursday morning, McCarthy dodged several questions about the phone call and Trump's role in the Jan. 6 attack, shifting the blame to Pelosi for conducting what Republicans consider a highly partisan investigation simply to hurt Trump and Republicans politically.
McCarthy's defense of Trump's role in the siege marks a reversal for the Republican leader, who by all accounts was furious with the 45th president in the immediate aftermath of the attack and made a floor speech saying Trump was responsible for the attack.
--Updated at 12:23 p.m.