House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday that Democrats shouldn’t focus on investigating President Trump when they retake the House majority in January because there are bigger issues facing the country.
In an interview with Fox News Channel, McCarthy also dismissed the news that Russians interacted with at least 14 Trump associates during the 2016 campaign and the presidential transition, casting such encounters as common in an “international city” such as Washington.
And he played down the significance of a new court filing that directly implicates Trump in plans to buy the silence of women alleging affairs with him, arguing that the matter amounts to little more than a routine campaign finance violation.
“Well, it’s a challenge,” McCarthy told Fox News Channel’s Bill Hemmer when asked about Democrats’ return to the majority in January. “It looks like what they’re going to focus on is just more investigations. I think America’s too great of a nation to have such a small agenda.”
He added that there are “other problems out there that we really should be focused upon” and that “both sides have come up with nothing” in investigating Trump.
Critics were quick to point out that in 2014, McCarthy and other House Republican leaders set up a special committee dedicated to investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed. The following year, in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, McCarthy credited the panel with having put a dent in Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” McCarthy said at the time. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought.”
Democrats fired back at McCarthy, noting that Republicans also spent a considerable amount of time probing Clinton’s emails.
“Hey @GOPLeader — kinda how you investigated @HillaryClinton’s emails for years, & actually went on TV to say you created a panel to politicize the deaths of Americans for the purpose of affecting Secretary Clinton’s chances at being elected @POTUS?” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) said Monday in a tweet.
In Monday’s interview, McCarthy echoed other Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) who have cast Trump’s involvement in plans to buy women’s silence as a minor campaign finance violation. Democrats have cast the issue in a far more serious light, with Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.) saying Sunday that Trump “may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time” because of the matter.
“If Schiff is taking this beyond, to go forward and say there’s an impeachable offense because of a campaign finance problem, there’s a lot of members in Congress who would have to leave,” McCarthy said. He also took aim at Schiff personally, telling Hemmer that “his credibility is rather low inside Washington for his members on either side of the aisle.”
McCarthy also suggested that reports detailing the extent of contacts between Russians and Trump associates were much ado about nothing. Over the course of his 18-month presidential campaign, Russian nationals made contact with some of Trump’s closest family members and friends — interactions that prosecutors say took place amid “sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the U.S. presidential election.”
“If you’re in an international city, people interact with a lot of individuals. . . . But did they affect the election or the outcome?” McCarthy said. “Every investigation, the House and the Senate, says they did not. Did they talk with the president? That wasn’t the case.”