If you were in the mood for a nice hike, you could walk from the northern tip of Adam Schiff's district up into Kevin McCarthy's. Schiff was in a told-you-so mood when he addressed his constituents today about McCarthy's lies-- the ones revealed by Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin (above)-- and told them that "It should surprise absolutely no one that Kevin McCarthy lied. And it should surprise nobody that he did so to cover for the former President and to try to help himself stay in leadership in the Republican Party. There is nothing Kevin McCarthy wants more than to become Speaker of the House. And he’s willing to do anything-- and blatantly lie-- to get power." He then wrote about a personal story that I had never heard before:
"The first real conversation I ever had with Kevin," he recounted, "was on a plane back to Washington in 2010. We sat next to each other and had a perfectly inconsequential conversation about the upcoming midterms, the type of conversation you have when you are waiting for the movie-- literally any movie-- to start. We landed and went our separate ways. But when Kevin got back to the Capitol, he told reporters that I said Democrats were sure to lose the House that year. I said no such thing. I immediately confronted Kevin on the House Floor. 'You know I said the exact opposite of what you told the press,' I said. Kevin looked straight at me, and replied, 'I know, Adam, but you know how it goes.' Yup. That’s how he is. That’s how he has always been. The truth matters nothing to him. And his lies have gotten far more dangerous to our fragile democracy."
Writing for Politico early this morning, the Playbook team noted, in a column headlined Is Kevin McCarthy Toast that "For years now, through controversy after controversy, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has bent over backward to stay in former President Donald Trump’s good graces, all to serve one major purpose: He wants to be speaker someday. That hope may have just blown up on the launchpad. On Thursday night, NYT’s Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns delivered an absolute stunner of a scoop: an audio recording of a phone call on Jan. 10, 2021, in which McCarthy is heard clearly and unambiguously saying that Trump should resign. McCarthy essentially conspires with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) about how to get Trump to step down as president after the Jan. 6 insurrection... How do MAGA die-hards like Reps. Marjorie Traitor Greene (Q-GA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) react? They’ve already suggested they could oppose McCarthy for speaker. Does this reporting spark a rebellion? One senior House Republican aide told us Thursday night that there’s already some grumbling among the rank and file over a report by Burns and Martin that McCarthy wanted to get some of his own members kicked off Twitter-- and you can expect that to dominate GOP conversations when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill next week."
One top Republican aide told the Politico reporters "noted that the entire situation Thursday shows that McCarthy has a 'trust' issue. He's a bald-faced liar who literally just has no problem completely lying. And that doesn’t sit well with members,' the senior aide said. Still, they noted that McCarthy has plenty of time before a potential speaker run to win back any defectors."
The media-- not to mention the GOP-- let McCarthy slide when he made up that whole lie about Madison Cawthorn admitting that he lied about the GOP sex orgies. Cawthorn told people he never said anything like that and that McCarthy's full of shit and that the orgies take place and that they [Gaetz? McHenry? Cawthorn still refuses to say who] tried to lure him into participating.
So far Trump hasn't publicly reacted to the tapes-- presumed by insiders to have been leaked by Gym Jordan in the hope that everyone will blame Liz Cheney-- but the Punchbowl crew noted that "Trump’s reaction to this incident is the key. If he dumps on McCarthy, that’s a major problem for the GOP leader. Trump can easily round up enough support within the House Republican Conference to prevent McCarthy from realizing his dream of wielding the speaker’s gavel. That’s Trump’s power here-- he can’t make McCarthy the speaker, but he can stop it from happening. However, Trump is savvy politically. He’s forgiven people for saying nasty things about him when it suits him. Hello Trump-endorsed Senate candidate J.D. Vance! But if Trump decides to use this against McCarthy, that would give the Freedom Caucus and other anti-McCarthyites within the GOP Conference cover to do the same. It might be enough to prevent McCarthy from being speaker. We’ll all see how Trump plays this one. Don’t forget this either: McCarthy was the first senior Republican to visit Trump in Mar-a-Lago in late Jan. 2021, just over a week after the former president left Washington in disgrace. That was a pivotal moment for both men. McCarthy also stuck by Trump in the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign, following the release of the Access Hollywood tape. It would be a mistake to overrate Trump’s loyalty to anyone except his family, as he’s repeatedly shown. Yet these two do have some history that makes it more complex than the reflexive 'Trump is going to dump McCarthy now.'"
Punchbowl's verdict: "It's exceedingly early, but the Republicans we spoke to following Maddow’s show don’t think this incident jeopardizes McCarthy’s current position or a future bid for the speakership. We’ll watch for how McCarthy plays this inside the conference. It’s the second half of the equation. Trump may forgive McCarthy, or look past this episode, but will other House Republicans? One senior House Republican leadership aide who doesn’t work for McCarthy texted us this last night: 'This too shall pass.' Rep. Tony Gonzalez (R-TX): '29 weeks from now Republicans will have the majority and Kevin McCarthy will be Speaker of the House.'"
I don't think conservative columnist Charlie Sykes, who once saw McCarthy as an ally, feels his pain today. "Watching Kevin McCarthy over the last 24 hours has been like peeling an onion of humiliation," he wrote this morning. "And there is no reason to think we are anywhere close to being done... [F]or the last 16 months, it has been humiliation all the way down. McCarthy made the calculation that all of this groveling was worth it, if it got him the gavel. But last November, I ventured this question: “What will happen to a speaker who rose to power by shrinking himself? What sort of power will be wielded by a man who obtained it through displays of weakness?... But if he is toast, it’s not because he has just been caught in a lie, because that’s not really a disqualification in today’s GOP. If his dreams of becoming speaker have been torched, it’s only because he’s seen as disloyal by Trump. And because he’s a cynical moron."
Pelosi made a mistake appointing Bennie Thompson (D-MS) to head the select committee investigating the insurrection and Trump's attempted coup. She should have appointed firebrand Jamie Raskin (D-MD)... but Pelosi only fully trusts people in their 70s and 80s who have slowed way down. (Actually, in a rational world Raskin wouldn't have been available because he would be Attorney General instead of the centrist fossil Biden appointed.)
This morning, NBC's Rebecca Shabad reported that Raskin "suggested that the House Jan. 6 committee's upcoming hearings will be dramatic and include explosive revelations that the panel has been piecing together behind the scenes for months. 'The hearings will tell a story that will really blow the roof off the House,' Raskin said Thursday at an event hosted by Georgetown University's Center on Faith and Justice in Washington. Members of the committee plan to hold those hearings in June and aim to have a report out about their investigation by the end of the summer or early fall, said Raskin, who sits on the panel. 'No president has ever come close to doing what happened here in terms of trying to organize an inside coup to overthrow an election and bypass the constitutional order,' he said. 'And then also use a violent insurrection made up of domestic violent extremist groups, white nationalist and racist, fascist groups in order to support the coup.' Raskin said the committee will present 'evidence' that proves there was coordination among then-President Donald Trump and his inner circle and his supporters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election."