Can Kevin McCarthy Overcome His Very Bad Week?

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is facing widespread criticism within the Republican Party and conservative media over recently revealed comments in which he said he believed President Donald Trump should resign and wished that tech companies would suspend GOP representatives from their platforms.

McCarthy initially denied making the comments, reported on by Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns of The New York Times. In response, the two reporters released several recordings of a Jan. 10, 2021 phone call between McCarthy, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, then-Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer showing McCarthy’s remarks.

McCarthy and Scalise named several House Republicans, including Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, as potentially inciting violence.

“Tension is too high, the country is too crazy. I don’t want to look back and think we caused something or we missed something and someone got hurt,” McCarthy said. (RELATED: Gaetz: The Left ‘Lit Actual Flames’)

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 03: U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) speaks as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) listens during a news conference December 3, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The GOP leader also floated stripping Brooks of his committee assignments, although he ultimately declined to do so. Brooks is running to replace Republican Sen. Richard Shelby.

Brooks declined to weigh in on McCarthy’s remarks, citing the fact that he will not be in the House of Representatives after the end of the current term.

“That’s going to be up to the members of the House in January of 2023,” he told The Dispatch. “I will not be in the House in January 2023. … So I will leave that issue to those who will be here.”

Gaetz, on the other hand, has repeatedly ripped into McCarthy, while appearing to suggest that Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan should be Speaker of the House should Republicans take back the lower chamber.

Jordan “is the hardest working and most talented member of the Republican House Conference. And every member knows it,” he tweeted on Saturday.

During a Wednesday GOP conference meeting, in which McCarthy and Scalise attempted to defend their comments, Gaetz reportedly confronted Scalise on how his comments were “potentially illegal.”

Also during the meeting, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called on McCarthy to apologize for his comments.

“We all need to be accountable for our words. I’ve had to do that before. And that we need to apologize when we say something wrong,” she said, adding that she was grateful for McCarthy’s support after she was banned from Twitter.

McCarthy’s office did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment on the meeting. He reportedly received a standing ovation from attendees after calling for party unity and suggesting that the recordings did not capture the full extent of his remarks.

Although Gaetz and Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs have been critical of McCarthy, he may still ascend to the speakership. (RELATED: ‘Puppet Of The Democratic Party’: Tucker Carlson Trashes ‘MSNBC Contributor’ Kevin McCarthy)

“There’s no problem. He’s going be the next speaker,” Texas Rep. Roger Williams said.

Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis downplayed the comments as “inside baseball,” adding that he “can’t wait till Speaker McCarthy is sworn in.”

If McCarthy maintains his perch atop the House GOP, despite the round of leaks, it will likely be in large part due to his prodigious fundraising. His joint fundraising committee, Take Back the House 2022, has raised more than $65 million and distributed nearly $58 million to House Republicans. Take Back the House 2022 has raised the second-most money of all joint fundraising committees, and donated the most to Republican members of Congress, according to OpenSecrets.