House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday walked back his comments in January holding Trump responsible for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the latest example of GOP leadership embracing the former president even after his supporters stormed the building in an effort to overturn the 2020 election.
Asked during a press conference outside the Capitol about saying in a floor speech on Jan. 13 Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack, McCarthy said he made that remark without “the information we have today.”
McCarthy instead claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ignored advance warnings of the attack and refused National Guard assistance, despite the fact Pelosi does not oversee Capitol security and, in fact, called for military aide on Jan. 6.
McCarthy’s comments come after GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik said ahead of the first Jan. 6 select committee hearing on Tuesday that Pelosi “bears responsibility, as speaker of the House” for the Jan. 6 attack.
Forbes has reached out to Pelosi’s office for comment.
Trump is struggling to assert his grip over other parts of the GOP, with the Senate passing a bipartisan infrastructure deal on Wednesday despite Trump threatening primary challenges, and his favored candidate in a U.S. House race in Texas losing to another Republican on Tuesday. Still, McCarthy trekked to Mar-a-Lago earlier this month to meet with Trump and enlist his help in taking back the House in 2022.
“The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” McCarthy said in January, while opposing an impeachment resolution against Trump for allegedly “inciting” the attack.
McCarthy said Tuesday he did not watch the Jan. 6 select committee hearing, in which four law enforcement officers who responded to the attack shared their harrowing Jan. 6 experiences and castigated Republicans for downplaying the attack. “The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” D.C. Police officer Michael Fanone said.