Former President Donald Trump’s alleged attempts to rig the election are described in detail in the 45-page federal indictment against him, but there is one glaringly unsourced line that begs more questions than it answers.
The paragraph focuses on Trump’s much-publicized phone discussion with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on January 6, 2021.
“At 3:00 p.m., the defendant had a phone call with the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives. The defendant told the Minority Leader that the crowd at the Capitol was more upset about the election than the Minority Leader was,” according to the indictment.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate had just left their respective chambers minutes before the phone call. Rioters continued to swarm the Capitol, while hundreds of thousands of others remained peaceful as Trump had told them to be during his speech.
The phone call was highly incriminating, according to former Washington state representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) who voted with Democrats to impeach Trump. Herrera Beutler came forward approximately thirty days after the attack on January 6 to give her account of the call, which she claimed McCarthy related to her.
According to Herrera Beutler, Trump not only didn’t express regret for the attack on the Capitol, but he also sided with the perpetrators. McCarthy allegedly heard him say that they were simply “more upset about the election than you are.”
It’s possible that Special Counsel Jack Smith has based his account of the phone call on Herrera Beutler’s statement, but it would be a significant shift from his usual strategies. Paragraph 115 constitutes one of the rare places in the indictment where Smith doesn’t specify where he got the information for a claim.
Federal prosecutors have completely obscured how they are aware of what was spoken on that phone call by speaking as a person with infinite knowledge in that paragraph. And that’s promoting conjecture regarding a variety of hypotheses: Is the call recorded somewhere? Mark Meadows, who is rumored to have been in the room with Trump during the time, did he give a statement to the investigators? Or perhaps McCarthy?
Meadows has not spoken up on the subject. McCarthy is going out of his way to avoid giving the impression that he has been assisting Smith.
Indeed, Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen who turned on his former boss, is actually thinking that Meadows is a cooperating witness.
According to The Hill, “Cohen raised questions Wednesday about why Mark Meadows and Jared Kushner were missing from the latest indictment against former President Trump, suggesting the possibility that they could be cooperating witnesses.”
McCarthy made a statement about the Hunter controversy soon after the indictment was made public, referring to it as “DOJ’s attempt to distract from the news and attack the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, President Trump.”
McCarthy has blocked any sort of blame of Trump and his actions leading up to the uprising, even though he is aware of all that was discussed on that phone call and even claimed a week after Jan. 6 that Trump “bears responsibility” for the violence at the Capitol.
Herrera Beutler claims, however, that McCarthy quickly attributed January 6 to Trump. She remembered hearing about it on a podcast from February 2021.
She added on the show that “he called the president and said, Hey, you basically need to get on TV, you need to call these people off.” Trump told him, “These aren’t my people, these are Antifa,” in response.
“Kevin, to his credit, responded, ‘No, they just came through my window, my staff are running, these are your people, they have MAGA hats on,’” Herrera Beutler added
‘Well, Kevin, I guess they are just more concerned about this election than you are,’” Trump responded, she alleged.
That nearly matches the indictment’s account of the call.
However, that was not the last we heard about the call. The call and the activities of that day were thoroughly examined by the House Committee on January 6. They provided the following account of the phone call:
“Multiple witnesses told the Select Committee that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy contacted the President and others around him, desperately trying to get him to act. McCarthy’s entreaties led nowhere. ‘I guess they’re just more upset about the election theft than you are,’ President Trump told McCarthy.”
Of course, McCarthy was one of Trump’s top enemies after January 6th.
The Hill reported at the time “In the Jan. 10, 2021, conference call with House GOP colleagues, McCarthy said he would recommend Trump resign because the Democratic-controlled House was moving to impeach him for the Capitol attack.”
“The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” McCarthy said in response to a question from Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on what Trump would do at the time. “I mean, that would be my take but I don’t think he would take it. But I don’t know.”
Additional leaked recordings of the call revealed McCarthy saying he was fed up with Trump and that the situation after Jan. 6 was “not great.”
“I’ve had it with this guy. What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that, and nobody should defend it,” the minority leader said.
In a larger call with Republican colleagues, McCarthy went even further.
“But let me be very clear to all of you, and I’ve been very clear to the president: He bears responsibility for his words and actions,” the GOP leader said. “No ifs, ands or buts. I asked him personally today, does he hold responsibility for what happened? Does he feel bad about what happened?”
Later, McCarthy came up with a new account of what happened that day.
When speaking with Michael Fanone, who guarded the Capitol and quit the Metropolitan Police Department after being hurt during the assault, he altered his tale. In a private discussion, McCarthy was challenged by Fanone, who claimed, “While you were on the phone with him, I was getting the shit kicked out of me, almost losing my life.”
McCarthy’s response was, “I’m just telling you from my phone call, that, I don’t know that he did know that.”
Fanone covertly taped that exchange, which was afterwards shown on CNN.
A spokesman for Smith declined to say whether or not the prosecution solely relied on outside reporting.
So who flipped on Trump? Meadows? McCarthy? Both? Or even Trump’s son in law Kushner, as Cohen dished? Whoever did will have hell to pay when it’s found out.
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