Kevin McCarthy’s shifting views over who’s to blame for the pro-Trump insurrection at the Capitol has landed at its inevitable, meaningless point: “Everybody across this country has some responsibility.”
That’s what the House minority leader offered to Greta Van Susteren after she questioned, according to HuffPost in an interview set to air on Sunday, whether he had contradicted himself on Thursday by asserting that Donald Trump had not provoked the Jan. 6 riot. The remark appeared to reverse McCarthy’s statements immediately following the Jan. 6 attack that Trump was at least partly to blame for the violence.
“No, I have not changed on that,” McCarthy told Van Susteren. Instead, he insisted that all Americans, which presumably includes Trump, share responsibility—a bold claim that carried strong notes of Trump’s infamous “both sides” comments in the wake of Charlottesville.
Of course, by extending blame for the Capitol insurrection to everyone, McCarthy is rendering responsibility a moot point. But that might be the goal. As my colleague Tim Murphy noted of Sen. Josh Hawley, Republicans are now brazenly lying about their prominent roles in supporting Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud. Hawley told CNN’s Manu Raju on Friday: “I was very clear from the beginning that I was never attempting to overturn the election.” That’s blatantly false; Hawley repeatedly ginned up false conspiracy theories alleging that the election had been stolen from Trump and voted to reject the results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Likewise, McCarthy voted to overturn the legitimate election results when Congress reconvened after the insurrectionists had been evicted from the Capitol. In the lead up to Jan. 6, McCarthy played no small part in fomenting Trump’s conspiracies of a stolen election: he joined a baseless lawsuit to overturn the election, refused to acknowledge Joe Biden as the president-elect after the results were unquestionably clear, and worked with the group of Republicans who plotted the Electoral College challenges that inspired the mob to think they could overrun the Capitol to prevent Joe Biden from being certified as president.
But again, admitting responsibility isn’t the point for these men. In the case of McCarthy, his ever-changing views on Trump is probably an easier task than answering for his own role in backing the mob.