Kevin McCarthy's Smoking Gun Phone Call to Trump to Remain a Mystery After Witness Deal

Impeachment managers said they want to hear about the reported discussion between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and former President Donald Trump on the day of the Capitol riot, leading to speculation McCarthy may be called as a witness in the trial.

Lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin on Saturday said he'd support subpoenaing GOP Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler to testify after she confirmed reports about a conversation in which McCarthy tried to convince Trump to call off the January 6 riot. Trump reportedly replied to McCarthy that his supporters were "more upset about the election" than him, offering a glimpse into Trump's doubling down on the violent riots. Democratic strategists said Beutler would be more likely to be called in as a witness than McCarthy, with the former potentially offering more sympathetic testimony.

Trump reportedly scoffed at McCarthy when he was told about gunfire outside the House chamber. Many Trump critics had hoped the details of the call would provide the most direct evidence that Trump was all-in for inciting a violent insurrection in Washington.

But in a last-minute move Saturday, Trump's lawyers and House impeachment managers struck a deal to prevent any witnesses from testifying in the trial. Only hours before, a surprise 55-45 vote would have allowed potential witnesses such as McCarthy to be called in a move widely viewed as a win for Democrats.

The deal means the trial will likely conclude by Saturday and will see impeachment managers inserting testimony and evidence in writing rather than calling in-person witnesses. Many left-leaning pundits and politicians alike responded to this deal by accusing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Senate Democrats of capitulating to Republican complaints.

Representative David Cicilline, an impeachment manager, appeared to complain Saturday during closing arguments that McCarthy and Trump's January 6 phone call was not even part of the "evidentiary record." But other Democrats, including New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, said he would have preferred Beutler's testimony over that of the ardently pro-Trump McCarthy.

"If you have somebody who hears the conversation and has first-hand knowledge and contemporary notes, that's just, in the law, normally of great value," Menendez told reporters. "That is as good as McCarthy, who may have reasons, not necessarily, to speak to what actually happened."

The January 6 call between Trump and McCarthy reportedly devolved into a profanity-laden shouting match in which the GOP House minority leader challenged the former president, "Who the f**k do you think you're talking to?"

Several GOP senators, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, had expressed frustration Saturday morning that the Senate voted to even allow witnesses, accusing Democrats of bending the knee to "leftist Twitter" overnight.

McCarthy's potential testimony would have shed light on his and Trump's January 6 conversation, as corroborated by Beutler, in which Trump repeatedly rejected the top House Republican's requests to "publicly and forcefully call off the riot." After initially placing blame on Trump for the violent Capitol attacks on January 6, McCarthy later walked these remarks back and visited Trump in Florida to make amends in late January.

"When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was Antifa that had breached the Capitol," Beutler, a Washington state Republican, said in a Friday statement.

Beutler is one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, while McCarthy has characterized the entire trial as absurd political theater.

"Why not go right to the source and get Kevin McCarthy" to come in? asked ABC News Chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl, suggesting House Democratic impeachment leaders bring in the GOP lawmaker.

donald trump and kevin mccarthy at rally
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump at a rally on February 19, 2020 in Bakersfield, California. The pair have met to discuss the former president helping Republican candidates in 2022. David McNew/Getty Images