Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump have a long history of having each other’s backs to the extent that two such soulless, transactional people ever do. But that broke down when Trump didn’t come to McCarthy’s aid as he was on the way to being voted out as speaker of the House, the first speaker ever ousted in that way. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who initiated the motion to vacate the chair, even publicly claimed that Trump supported his move against McCarthy. McCarthy had reason to be frustrated and angry—and The Washington Post reports that McCarthy claims he vented that frustration to Trump directly. (Emphasis on McCarthy claims.)
McCarthy and Trump reportedly had a call weeks after McCarthy’s ouster in which Trump made clear that he had made an active decision not to bail McCarthy out, because he was angry that McCarthy hadn’t gotten Trump’s two impeachments expunged and hadn’t endorsed him yet for the 2024 Republican presidential primary, sources told the Post:
“F--- you,” McCarthy claimed to have then told Trump, when he rehashed the call later to other people in two separate conversations, according to the people. A spokesperson for McCarthy said that he did not swear at the former president and that they have a good relationship. A spokesperson for Trump declined to comment.
It is totally believable that Trump’s ego is so fragile he let McCarthy twist in the wind over impeachments not being expunged and an endorsement that McCarthy did plan to make later. It is less believable—though not entirely unbelievable—that McCarthy said “Fuck you” to Trump, but totally typical that McCarthy was reportedly saying one thing in multiple private conversations and then having a spokesperson deny it.
McCarthy is never the most reliable source on his own interactions with Trump. Everything he says is bound up in his own ambition and reputation management, and his dramatic stories often change. For instance, following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler described a phone call between McCarthy and Trump during the attack in which McCarthy pleaded with Trump to call off the mob, only to be told, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” McCarthy reportedly yelled at Herrera Beutler for making that public, saying, “You should have come to me! Why did you go to the press? This is no way to thank me!” McCarthy and Herrera Beutler then denied reports that he had yelled at her until she was in tears, but the reporting on that meeting “was verified by a primary source and multiple lawmakers who heard the account firsthand from McCarthy.” McCarthy lied one of those times, in other words.
Former Rep. Liz Cheney also offers another eyebrow-raising McCarthy-Trump story in her new book:
“Mar-a-Lago? What the hell, Kevin?” Cheney asked, per CNN.
“They’re really worried,” he replied, according to her book. “Trump’s not eating, so they asked me to come see him.”
“What? You went to Mar-a-Lago because Trump’s not eating?” Cheney said.
“Yeah, he’s really depressed,” McCarthy added.
Yes, Donald Trump was depressed and the only thing that could make him feel better was a visit from Kevin McCarthy.
These two deserve each other. They are seething balls of ego and ambition, only caring for what the people around them can do for them. The thing is, Trump is better at it. He’s more shameless, more dangerous. McCarthy is always a little—and sometimes more than a little—pathetic. And these days, as ex-speaker, he’s barely even relevant except as a symbol of his party’s ongoing disgrace.