In the days following the Capitol riot, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy voiced concerns that some GOP lawmakers would incite violence against other members of Congress.

The California Republican identified several rank-and-file Republicans who he believed posed security risks to the Capitol complex, naming those who aided former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and disrupt the transfer of power on Jan. 6, according to audio recordings obtained by the New York Times.

Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Mo Brooks of Alabama were among those who posed the highest concern, McCarthy told Republican lawmakers in phone calls following the riot. The Republican leader specifically pointed to their comments challenging the validity of the election results and threats to attack lawmakers who disagree with the outcome.


“That stuff’s got to stop,” McCarthy said. “Tension is too high, the country is too crazy — I do not want to look back and think we caused something or we missed something and someone got hurt. I don’t want to play politics on any of that.”

In particular, McCarthy said comments from Brooks, who spoke at the rally on the Ellipse just before the Capitol riot and told attendees it was “the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass," were worse than those made by Trump, who also spoke at the event and encouraged people to march to the Capitol.

“You think the president deserves to be impeached for his comments?” McCarthy asked rhetorically. “That’s almost something that goes further than what the president said.”

He also expressed his desire to rein in some of the Republican hard-liners, suggesting he would tell the lawmakers to stop posting “incendiary” comments on social media. However, McCarthy stopped short of punishing those who were accused of inciting violence.


The audio was collected for the forthcoming book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future, which is set to release May 3. The authors, New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, have also detailed conversations with GOP leadership in which McCarthy said he would tell Trump to resign days after the riot.

McCarthy denied the report as written, calling it "totally false and wrong," but then, audio was released on MSNBC in which he was heard telling GOP colleagues on Jan. 10 that he would urge Trump to resign. He denied Friday that he ever asked Trump to resign, however. He spoke with the former president after the audio was released, and Trump then announced that their relationship remains intact.

McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment by the Washington Examiner.