McCarthy shared the details of his conversation with Trump in an unnoticed local radio interview a week into the rebellion, in which McCarthy said he supported a commission to investigate the attack and supported assigning blame to then-President Trump. While McCarthy made similar comments about support for blame and a bipartisan committee elsewhere around the same time, the radio interview — in which McCarthy spoke harsh words to Trump and strongly condemned the violent attack — provides another example of how the California Republican has changed his tone in the year since the uprising. .
“I say he takes responsibility,” McCarthy said on local radio station KERN in Bakersfield, Calif., on January 12 last year. “He told me personally that he has some responsibility. I think a lot of people take on that.”
McCarthy shared a similar account last year with House Republicans during a private conference call the day before, according to multiple sources on the call. That call was reported at the time, but CNN got a more detailed reading of the call on Thursday.
McCarthy told House Republicans on January 11, 2021, according to a reading obtained by CNN from a source listening to the call. “I asked him in person today if he took responsibility for what happened. If he felt bad about what happened. He told me he took some responsibility for what happened. But he needs to admit it.”
In a local radio interview, McCarthy said that during a phone call during the Capitol attack he urged the president to call the National Guard and go on television to cancel the rioters.
“I spoke to the president during the riots,” McCarthy said. “I was the first person to call him. I told him to go on national television, and tell those people to stop him. He said he didn’t know what was going on. We went to the news and then to work through it. I asked the president, he has a responsibility. You know what the president is doing, but you You know what? We all do.”
“I called the president, and I told him, ‘Get the National Guard, go on TV,'” he later added.
Details of McCarthy’s call with Trump – and whether Trump has admitted any responsibility for the riots – have been the subject of interest to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 riots, saying they are key to understanding the former president’s mental state. during the Capitol attack and in the weeks that followed.
The committee also wants to know why McCarthy has since changed his tune, and whether Trump or any of his associates have asked McCarthy to change his tone about the president’s role in the attack and their private conversations.
In his radio interview, McCarthy strongly supported blaming Trump as an alternative to impeachment – which he fiercely opposed – and said he supports a bipartisan commission to investigate the causes of the attack. McCarthy also said he had brought up the idea of censure with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
“What I suggested — which I think history will say, I’m right — is because it’s the right thing to do, I think,” McCarthy said. “Get a bipartisan commission and get all your facts, and actually work through the grand jury to find out in the end, rather than pre-determination, whether someone is guilty.”
He added, “The only thing about accountability, why are you running it so quickly? I say let’s form a bipartisan committee, let’s learn all the facts.”
Hoyer emphasized that McCarthy offered blame as an alternative to accountability but described it as a “relatively fleeting conversation”.
“I didn’t see it as a deep, long, thoughtful strategy,” Hoyer said Thursday. He was looking at options because at that point he was holding the president responsible.”
McCarthy said in a local radio interview that Trump didn’t tell the crowd to attack the Capitol, but he still had a responsibility to tell them Vice President Mike Pence might fire voters. Trump has repeatedly raised the idea that Pence could delay or impede the Electoral College’s testimony.
“Did he ask the crowd to hang him? What he said Mike Pence could do, he couldn’t do,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy also noted in the interview how the attack looked planned, undermining the narrative that has since prevailed in the Republican Party that the riots were just a spontaneous protest that got out of hand.
“If you say the speech caused it, then these people actually planned it,” McCarthy said during the radio interview. “People had a real plan of action. They climbed walls. They brought the ropes.”
CNN’s Jimmy Jungle and Ryan Nobles contributed to this story.