McCarthy also said on the call that he wanted to reach out to then-President-elect Joe Biden as he expressed hope for a “smooth transition,” and said he believed impeachment would further divide the nation.
The call took place on January 8, 2021 and audio was obtained for the new book “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future”, by Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns.
At one point during the taping, McCarthy asks an aide to read what House Democrats had been discussing internally. The aide responds, “I think the options that have been cited by Democrats so far are the 25th Amendment, which isn’t exactly an elegant solution here.”
McCarthy steps in to say, “It’s taking too long too. It could come back to the House, couldn’t it?”
The aide replies, “Correct. If the president were to submit a letter canceling the government and the vice president, two-thirds vote in the House and the Senate to cancel the president. So that’s kind of a load.”
That same day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to House Democrats, raising the optional 25th Amendment. The House ended up voting days later on a resolution calling on the vice president to activate the 25th Amendment, with only one Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, joining all Democrats in supporting the measure.
CNN reached out to McCarthy’s office to ask for comment on the new audio.
Invoking the 25th Amendment would have forced then-Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the Cabinet to vote to remove Trump from office due to his failure to “discharge the powers and duties of his office” – a unprecedented step.
McCarthy’s new audio release is the latest in a series of such releases featuring the House GOP leader that shed light on what he said privately to other House Republicans in the wake of the January 6 attack. And the fact that McCarthy was pressing one of his aides for details on how the 25th Amendment process works shows there was serious conversation at the highest levels of the GOP leadership about the idea — not just pointless chatter – although that was ultimately deemed not a viable option.
Trump, for his part, said after the release of the first audio tapes that while he didn’t like what he heard from McCarthy, their relationship remained strong — in part because McCarthy had worked so hard after the January 6 to win his support.
In the new audio, McCarthy can also be heard discussing wanting to contact Biden.
“I think impeachment further divides the nation and keeps the fight on even more. That’s why I want to reach out to Biden. I wanted the president to meet Biden; that’s not going to happen,” McCarthy said, adding: “I want us to meet Biden, sit down, transition smoothly to show it and keep pushing those statements forward.”
McCarthy, who said he used to have breakfast with Biden when he was vice president, also spoke about what would be best for Biden, arguing that a smooth transition would be “beneficial as well. for his presidency” and that Biden would be in a “stronger” position if he implores the country to move forward.
McCarthy can also be heard saying on the tape, “I’m trying to do this not from a base of Republicans, from a base of, hey, that’s not healthy for the nation. It’s a conversation I want to have with Biden himself.”
This story was updated with additional developments on Wednesday and more details.
CNN’s Lauren Fox contributed to this report.