House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Friday that he has not received a commitment from former president Donald Trump that he will not back primary challenges against sitting Republican members of Congress, days ahead of Trump’s speech at a major conservative conference.
At his weekly press briefing, McCarthy declined to say whether he wants such a commitment from the former president.
“I don’t have a commitment [on] that,” McCarthy said. “I’ve worked closely with the president on working on endorsements to win seats in the House.”
Trump has begun reemerging on the political stage in recent weeks and, as he has done in the past, is lashing out at fellow Republicans who have criticized him. In a statement issued by his Save America PAC, Trump earlier this month called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a “dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack” and predicted that “if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.”
McConnell voted to acquit Trump of the charge of incitement of insurrection but said in a floor speech after his vote that the former president was “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
At his Friday news conference, McCarthy dodged questions about Trump’s potential involvement in GOP primaries, telling reporters, “I’ll deal with politics later.”
“My focus right now is not on politics. My focus is getting people back to work, back to school and back to health,” he said.
As Congress continues to grapple with the fallout from the Jan. 6 attack, McCarthy said he does not believe it is necessary for lawmakers to be allowed to bring firearms on the House floor, a step some GOP lawmakers have called for.
He also took aim at the Capitol security structure, arguing that security officials should not report to the speaker of the House.
“I think a restructuring probably should happen,” he said, arguing that the current structure allows “a political person” to decide what’s best for the Capitol.
But at a hearing earlier this week, former House sergeant-at-arms Paul D. Irving disputed speculation from Republicans that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was to blame for the security failures at the Capitol.
When asked by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) whether he had waited for permission from congressional leaders before deploying the National Guard, Irving said, “Absolutely not.”
Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.