WASHINGTON • A reportedly expletives-laden telephone conversation that House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy had with former US president Donald Trump during the Jan 6 assault on the Capitol has come to light.
According to this conversation, which was reported in the US media but could not be independently confirmed, Mr Trump is said to have sided with the rioters.
In a statement released on Friday night on Twitter, Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state said Mr McCarthy had told her that he had asked Mr Trump to call off his supporters who had invaded the building.
According to her account, Mr Trump first claimed that the rioters were members of the leftist movement Antifa.
When Mr McCarthy responded that they were indeed his supporters, Mr Trump told him, "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are," Ms Beutler said in the statement.
CNN quoted unnamed Republican lawmakers as saying that Mr Trump's comment set off a shouting match between the two men.
A furious Mr McCarthy told the then President the rioters were breaking into his office through the windows, and asked Mr Trump, "Who the **** do you think you are talking to?"
Ms Beutler's account of the call between Mr McCarthy and Mr Trump addressed a crucial question in the impeachment trial: what Mr Trump was doing and saying privately while the Capitol was being overrun.
House prosecutors are expected to call Ms Beutler to testify at the trial.
Mr McCarthy's response to Mr Trump in the weeks since the attack on the Capitol has fluctuated.
On the day of the House's impeachment vote, he said Mr Trump bore some responsibility for the attack because he had not denounced the mob, but he has since backtracked and sought to repair his relationship with the former president.
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