Top Republican in the House under fire for telling Trump to resign

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Top Republican in the House under fire for telling Trump to resign

After an audio recording of him saying that then-President Donald Trump should resign over the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a top Republican in the U.S. House of RepresentativesHouse of Representatives, came under fire from some of his fellow party members.

McCarthy had denied hours before the recording emerged, and could undermine his widely known ambition to become House speaker next year if Republicans take control of the chamber in November s midterm elections, as expected.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that he and Trump had spoken by phone and that the Republican former president was not upset about McCarthy's remarks. That could significantly mute the rank-and-file reaction among Trump supporters.

The audio recorded days after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, delaying the certification of Democrat Joe Biden's 2020 presidential election victory, depicts a conversation between McCarthy and Rep. Liz Cheney, who was ousted from party leadership weeks later over her opposition to Trump.

McCarthy told Cheney he planned to call Trump to discuss a mechanism for invoking the 25th Amendment, under which then-Vice President Mike Pence and Cabinet members could have removed the president from office.

McCarthy said in the recording, released late on Thursday, that the only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation to resign.

McCarthy told Republican lawmakers that Trump admitted to having some responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack, according to CNN.

McCarthy's office did not respond to requests for comment on Friday. A Trump spokesman was not immediately available.

Biden referenced the audio in remarks on Friday, saying that the Republicans were a MAGA party now, referring to Trump's Make America Great Again slogan. Republicans who oppose Trump privately are afraid to do so publicly, he said.

The newspaper reported that McCarthy told other Republican leaders that he wished big tech companies would strip social media accounts from party lawmakers who supported Trump's false claims of a rigged 2020 election.

McCarthy denied the Times account in a statement that called the reporting totally false and wrong. One of the few Republican politicians who are openly critical of Trump, Adam Kinzinger, blasted McCarthy on Thursday night over his denial.

Kinzinger asked if other people lie, but you claimed to fight for a higher purpose. McCarthy, who has also been criticised by hard-line conservatives in his caucus, publicly zigzagged on Trump's culpability for the Jan. 6 riot, first saying the former president had some responsibility for the violence, but finally visited Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort home in Florida and posed for a picture with him.

McCarthy's political fate will depend largely on Trump, who remains the most powerful figure in the Republican Party more than a year after he left office.

The Post said two unnamed sources said that McCarthy and Trump spoke on Thursday night, and that the former president was glad that the Republican leader did not follow through with his plan to ask him to resign, seeing it as a sign of his continued grip on the Republican Party.