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OP-ED: To be consistent, McCarthy must tell Trump to stop questioning the election

Michael McGough
Los Angeles Times (TNS)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been rightly ridiculed for his shifting positions on whether Donald Trump bears responsibility for the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by crazed Trump supporters.

But on Wednesday, just after his first White House meeting with President Joe Biden, McCarthy invited further mockery with a mind-boggling comment about the 2020 election.

The California Republican, who signed on to a brief in the Supreme Court challenging Biden's victories in four states, said: "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with." (He added: "We're sitting here with the president today," but that doesn't support his larger assertion.)

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The idea that no one of any prominence is questioning the legitimacy of the election is not true. On Sunday, Trump did just that.

In a characteristically bizarre statement, the former president referred to "our fake presidential election" in a pseudo-tweet on his personal website that also described Medina Spirit, the horse that won the Kentucky Derby, as a "junky."

McCarthy's claim that no one is questioning the legitimacy of the election came after the House — with his support — ousted Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., from party leadership. Cheney's sin? She called out Trump's Big Lie about a stolen election.

McCarthy's statement reminded me of this epigram from the poet J. V. Cunningham:

This is my curse. Pompous, I pray

That you believe the things you say.

And that you live them, day by day.

Will McCarthy follow the poet's injunction and demand in outraged tones that Trump (and Trump followers) put a lid on the Big Lie? Don't hold your breath.

— Michael McGough is the Los Angeles Times’ senior editorial writer.