The top Republican leader in the House has reportedly told members of his GOP conference that the Wednesday riot at the Capitol had nothing to do with Antifa, self-styled “anti-fascists” that have been involved in violent unrest in various U.S. cities.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — the House minority leader who helped head up the effort to block the electoral certification vote in the House — urged fellow Republicans not to further spread misinformation about who was behind the Capitol riot.
“McCarthy told all members on the call that he has been receiving FBI briefings and it is clear that antifa was not behind this,” one source familiar with the call told The Hill. “That it was in fact right-wing extremists and QAnon adherents, and he urged members to stop spreading false information to the contrary.”
Citing two unnamed sources, Axios reported Tuesday that during a private call with McCarthy Monday, President Trump blamed “Antifa people” for the violence at the Capitol, “even though clear video and documentary evidence exists showing the rioters were overwhelmingly Trump supporters.”
According to Axios’ sources, an unnamed White House official and “another source familiar with the call,” McCarthy pushed back, stating, “It’s not Antifa, it’s MAGA. I know. I was there.”
Some Trump supporters have pressed the claim, including GOP lawmakers. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) claimed on the House floor that Antifa was behind the violence that broke out at the Capitol; Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) made the same claim.
“Evidence growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack with clever mob control tactics,” Brooks wrote on Twitter the day after the riot.
Please, don’t be like #FakeNewsMedia, don’t rush to judgment on assault on Capitol. Wait for investigation. All may not be (and likely is not) what appears. Evidence growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack with clever mob control tactics.
— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) January 7, 2021
But the claims have been widely disproved in follow-up reports, and even the FBI says there’s no evidence Antifa was involved. “When asked if the FBI had uncovered such efforts, Assistant Director Steven D’Antuono told reporters on a call, ‘We have no indication of that, at this time,’” CNBC reported two days after the violent riot.
Meanwhile, McCarthy, who has come under strong criticism himself for his role in pushing the effort to block the certification process, told lawmakers in the call that Trump acknowledged that he bears “some responsibility,” Reuters reported, citing two unnamed sources.
“McCarthy, who said he believed Trump was responsible for the violence, shared details of a phone conversation he had with Trump during an emotional 2-1/2-hour long call with Republicans, many of whom remain divided over the attack, the sources said.”
“‘I have been very clear to the president. He bears responsibility for his words and actions,’ McCarthy told fellow Republicans on Monday, according to one of the sources. ‘I asked him personally today if he holds responsibility for what happened, if he feels bad about what happened. He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened.’”
McCarthy also reportedly told Trump, “I’m asking you personally. Call Joe Biden. For the sake of this nation.”
Axios reported that the House GOP leader urged Trump to “meet with the president-elect and follow tradition and leave a welcome letter in the Resolute Desk for his successor. The president told him he hadn’t decided whether to do so for Biden.”