House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy finally said what so many Republicans have refused to admit: Joe Biden won the presidential election.
Speaking on the House floor on Wednesday, McCarthy said, “Let’s be clear, Joe Biden will be sworn in as president of the United States in one week because he won the election.”
This was the first of several important admissions made by McCarthy as he defended President Trump from Democrats’ second impeachment effort. He denied accusations that antifa was behind the Capitol riot, distanced himself from Trump’s attempts to delegitimize the election, and said Trump bears responsibility for last week’s tragedy.
It’s too bad that McCarthy is only willing to say as much when his back is pressed up against a wall. He knows his caucus is splitting, and he knows that Trump’s actions last week all but destroyed the president’s hopes of a political future. But last week, when it was not clear how the Capitol siege would shake out, McCarthy dug in his heels and objected to the Electoral College’s certification — even though doing so justified the poisonous lies Trump had spread.
So, no matter how welcome McCarthy’s comments might be now, they’re not enough. Every single congressional Republican who sought to appease the president and further his election delusions is just as responsible as Trump for the Capitol riot. These lawmakers helped the president convince millions of people that they had been disenfranchised, that their rights were under attack, and that their country was being stolen from them by Venezuelan communists and corrupt Republican sellouts — and none of it was true. But not a single one of the Republicans who indulged Trump’s fantasy was willing to say so until it blew up in their faces.
Blaming Trump now that the tides have turned against him is not leadership. The time to do the right thing was long ago. What McCarthy should do now is step up, admit that he too is responsible for whipping Republican voters into a frenzy, and encourage other GOP lawmakers to do the same.