Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler backed reports late Friday that said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke with then-President Donald Trump as a mob was attacking the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and that the president seemed unconcerned about the riot.
Herrera Beutler, one of 10 House Republicans to vote for Trump’s impeachment on a charge of inciting the attack, said in a statement that McCarthy had told her when he reached Trump by phone as the Capitol was breached McCarthy “asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot.”
According to Herrera Beutler, Trump initially tried to blame the attack on leftist members of “antifa” but when McCarthy insisted the mob was comprised of the president supporters, Trump told the top House Republican, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
Herrera Beutler’s allegation supports the House impeachment managers’ claim that Trump was aware of the danger to lawmakers during the breach and did nothing to stop the riot as the Capitol was being stormed by a deadly mob.
The congresswoman from Washington said she had “shared these details in countless conversations with constituents and colleagues, and multiple times through the media and other public forums.”
Herrera Beutler had previously cited McCarthy’s unheeded appeal to Trump in a Jan. 12 statement explaining her decision to vote for impeachment. She linked to a Jan. 17 article in The Daily News in which she related the same account to the Longview, Washington, newspaper.
In that interview, she said McCarthy pleaded with the president, telling him, “You need to get on TV right now, you need to get on Twitter, you need to call these people off.”
Herrera Beutler said the president replied, “Kevin, they’re not my people.”
“Yes, they are,” McCarthy told Trump. “They just came through my windows and my staff is running for cover. Yeah, they’re your people. Call them off.”
At that point, she said Trump told McCarthy, “Well I guess these people are just more angry about the election and upset than you are.”
McCarthy’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Herrera explained that phone call, as well as the death of Capitol Police Office Brian Sicknick, were the primary reasons for her vote to impeach the president.
“A president who sees an attack happening like this has an oath by his office to do what he can to stop it, and he didn’t,” she said.
In her statement on Friday, she appealed to “the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening.”
“If you have something to add here, now would be the time,” she said.
If the House impeachment managers want to call witnesses in the Senate trial, which could extend the proceedings for weeks or months, the Senate would likely vote on that request Saturday.
Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Sheldon Whitehouse both indicated their support for calling witnesses in response to Herrera Beutler’s statement.
Whitehouse said the conversation between Trump and McCarthy showed Trump’s lawyers were either mistaken or dishonest in their arguments Friday in which they said Trump had tried to call off the attackers and did not know that Vice President Mike Pence had been in danger.
“One way to clear it up? Suspend trial to depose McCarthy and Tuberville under oath and get facts,” Whitehouse said in a tweet.