McCarthy Could Get 'Mo Brooks Treatment' if Trump Turns on Him Over Calls

Recently leaked audio of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the days following the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol has left the Republican leader vulnerable to criticism from members of his own party.

After the release of a recording last week, former President Donald Trump said that although he "didn't like the call," he felt that McCarthy's public support of him was "a big compliment," The Wall Street Journal reported. But other GOP lawmakers have criticized McCarthy over the audio, and Trump has been known to withdraw his support, meaning the House minority leader isn't entirely off the hook yet.

With the House GOP expected to win a majority in November's midterm elections, McCarthy has his sights set on becoming House speaker. On Wednesday, McCarthy managed to still find support from his caucus despite the leaked calls, Politico reported.

But McCarthy's path to the speakership could be swiftly obstructed if Trump changes his tone regarding the minority leader.

"Of course, the former president can bugger McCarthy's bid to be Speaker, and McCarthy is petrified that he will," Republican strategist Jay Townsend told Newsweek. "As long as Trump regards it in his interest for McCarthy to become Speaker, there will not be a problem. If the day comes that Trump no longer does, McCarthy will get the Mo Brooks treatment."

Kevin McCarthy Trump House
Newly released tapes of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have shaken up the Republican's possible future as House speaker if the GOP wins a majority in November's midterms. Above, former President Donald Trump greets McCarthy during a Rose Garden event on May 4, 2017, at the White House in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty

Earlier this week, The New York Times published audio of a call McCarthy made four days after the January 6 attack in which he named Representatives Matt Gaetz and Mo Brooks as allegedly endangering lawmakers' security and Representatives Lauren Boebert and Barry Moore as having made dangerous comments.

The newly released tape comes days after the publication of another McCarthy recording that revealed he had planned to urge Trump to resign over the Capitol riot.

The recordings have painted McCarthy as a calculating leader who has presented a front different from the opinions he has expressed in private.

On Tuesday, Gaetz blasted the House minority leader and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise for the "sniveling calls."

"This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders," Gaetz said in a statement. "Folks know what I think because I tell them clearly, directly, as I did when I held the largest event in Wyoming political history (without a rodeo element) days after these recordings were taken."

"I think the tapes are damning to the point where Rep. McCarthy's chances of becoming speaker are extremely diminished," Alex Patton, founder of political consulting firm Ozean Media, told Newsweek. "The political knives are out for him, and whether Team Trump or some other ambitious GOPers twists them is immaterial."

Some of Trump's staunch supporters have already begun calling for Representative Jim Jordan to replace McCarthy if Republicans win back the House later this year. Jordan has continued to say that McCarthy will be the next speaker of the House, Politico added.

Patton added that the leaked recordings could undermine McCarthy's ability to lead.

"In politics, you can't play both sides, get caught, and expect to retain credibility and trust with any side," Patton said. "At this point, no faction trusts Rep. McCarthy and that lack of trust is going to make it difficult if not nearly impossible for McCarthy to operate in a leadership role."