House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday said that he still sees a future role for former President Donald Trump in the Republican Party similar to the role of other past presidents in their political parties.
The comment by the caucus leader who helmed a House GOP campaign effort that vastly outperformed expectations is the latest signal that Republican politicians may continue to embrace Trump during his post-presidency. It also follows a comment from Trump during his farewell address Wednesday that “we will be back in some form.”
Trump has been widely speculated to be considering either running for president again in 2024, and more recently it has been rumored he may be considering starting his own political party.
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“Going forward, every former president still has a role within their party for the time basis. This president brought a lot of great success within. He brought people to the party that hadn’t been involved before. And he should continue to engage in that way,” McCarthy said.
He continued: “But the one thing … we learned in the last four years that president Trump brought forward — he listened to voices that no one else was hearing on either party. Those are the voices we should continue to hear.”
The question-and-answer session of McCarthy’s press conference was dominated by questions about Trump, including one about whether or not Trump provoked the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“I don’t believe he provoked if you listen to what he said at the rally,” McCarthy said.
The comment came after McCarthy said on the House floor during the debate over whether to impeach Trump that the president did share some of the blame for the attack.
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“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” McCarthy said last week. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
McCarthy then called on Trump to “accept his share of responsibility” for the attack on the Capitol.
Trump did not explicitly call for violence during his speech on Jan. 6 before a pro-Trump mob ransacked the Capitol and forced lawmakers into hiding during their joint session to certify the Electoral College results. He specifically said the crowd should march “peacefully and patriotically.”
But he did instruct his followers to march to the Capitol, repeated false claims that he won the election and said he and his followers were there to save democracy, as other allies at the rally used pitched rhetoric. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said “let’s have trial by combat” at the rally.
About an hour after his speech ended at about 1 p.m., the Capitol was forced to lock down just after 2 p.m.
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McCarthy, on Thursday, was also asked whether or not he supported House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., to remain in her position despite calls from some in the conference for her to resign after voting to impeach Trump over the Capitol riot.
McCarthy responded with a terse “yes,” doubling down on his support for Cheney, which was first reported by Fox News on Jan. 14.
The House Republican leader was also asked whether any members of Congress who participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol should be prosecuted, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested last week. McCarthy agreed, though he said that he is not aware of any members’ active participation.
“Any member who participated in breaking the law or rioting in that way, yes. I think anybody should be held account in that process,” McCarthy said. “I do not know of any member that has done that.”
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He added: “This is why I called last week after this happened for a bipartisan commission… Let’s get and have all the facts before we accuse anybody of anything.”
McCarthy raised questions about whether or not intelligence that an attack on the Capitol was possible was taken seriously, security in and around the Captiol and more, which he said a commission should address.
During his conference, McCarthy also lambasted the new Biden administration over its initial executive actions, including rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, nixing the Keystone XL Pipeline and more.
He said that President Biden appears “more interested in virtue signals to the climate activists than supporting the union workers who are building the Keystone Pipeline. He added that Biden’s other actions, including on loosening immigration rules, don’t help Americans who “need our help at home.”