March 22, 2023


House Speaker Kevin McCarthy once spoke about the violence at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, in starkly different terms than the narrative Fox News host Tucker Carlson is presenting with footage McCarthy provided to him, which has been selectively used to downplay the violence.

In the days following the riot, McCarthy said rioters “overtook” the Capitol, speculating the rioters who he said broke a window in his office could have kidnapped or even hung members of Congress, and called the mob attacking the Capitol “un-American.”

In other comments made a week later on KERN, a local radio station that airs in his Bakersfield, California-based congressional district, McCarthy said anyone who participated should go to jail and spoke in stark terms of the violence unleashed on Capitol Police officers.

“These men and women in the uniform, they got overrun,” McCarthy said. “One officer got killed…they got broken arms. You don’t understand what was transpiring at that moment and that time. People hanging. People brought ropes. When I got back into my building, I found the straps that they had. I don’t know if they come and try to kidnap somebody or whatever. But they, they were well planned for it.”

“They scaled walls,” he added. “They brought ropes. A couple of protesters died because they scaled. And when you have the inaugural there was scaffolding. They were scaling the scaffolding. They, they overtook the place.”

McCarthy’s office did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The House speaker shared tens of thousands of hours of exclusive footage of January 6 security cameras footage with Carlson. The conservative firebrand, one of the most powerful voices in modern GOP politics, began airing selective footage Monday night, sanitizing the violence of the Capitol riot and claiming that the edited footage he aired showed that January 6 was not an “insurrection.” CNN and other media have requested access to the same security footage.

McCarthy’s decision to share footage with a political ally rather than the media-at-large comes after he was made speaker of the House and gained more control over the handling of January 6 investigations in Congress. After the House voted in June 2021 to form a select committee on January 6, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocked two of McCarthy’s nominees to the committee. McCarthy then pulled all five of his nominees and refused to appoint other members of Congress to the committee, effectively ensuring that he would have no allies on the select committee.

CNN previously reported McCarthy said on KERN that former President Donald Trump accepted some responsibility for the riot. CNN reported in February 2021 the two had an expletive-laced phone call while the Capitol was under attack on January 6, where Trump said the rioters cared more about the 2020 presidential election results than McCarthy did.

McCarthy said in the interview he supported censuring Trump but said he didn’t directly call for violence.

“Did he say, ‘Go hang somebody?’ Did he say, ‘Go break into the building?’” said McCarthy.

Rioters, McCarthy added on local radio, broke into his office and stole things and broke windows.

“They did go into my office. They did steal things. They did break through the windows,” he said.

In another comment, the House speaker said one thing all Americans could agree on was that anyone who participates should be punished.

“The great thing about this nation is people have differences of opinion. But the one thing that keeps us together is we believe in the rules of law. Have the facts then make your determination. What happened in this – what happened in this Capitol should never happen again. Anybody that participated needs to go to court, needs to go to jail. We, we have been clear about that from day one.”


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