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McCarthy starts hedging on Trump's culpability for Jan. 6 attack

In January, Kevin McCarthy conceded that Trump "bears responsibility" for the Jan. 6 attack. Six months later, McCarthy won't endorse his own assessment.

For months, Republicans and their allies have struggled to find someone politically satisfying to blame for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. For a brief period, many in the GOP liked the idea of blaming Antifa, which didn't make any sense. Some conservatives also tried blaming the FBI, which also didn't work.

Much of the party has become heavily invested in blaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), though the claims struggled under scrutiny. Yesterday, the blame game was extended to those who protested Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation in 2018, though I'll confess to being somewhat baffled by the argument.

Of course, Republicans could hold Donald Trump and his most rabid followers responsible for their own actions, though it's obviously a sensible step most of the party will not take.

The challenge is an especially tricky one, though, for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), in large part because he made the mistake in January of accidentally telling the truth. "The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters," the GOP leader conceded the week after the assault.

At a press event yesterday, a reporter asked McCarthy whether he stood by his own assessment. As The Hill noted, the congressman "did not place any blame at Trump's feet."

"When I called [Trump], I was telling him about what was happening to the Capitol because none of you would know unless you were in the Capitol," McCarthy said, detailing his Jan. 6 frantic call with Trump as the attack was underway. Then, he quickly pivoted back to blaming Pelosi.

McCarthy went on to suggest that when he held Trump responsible, there was information -- apparently anti-Pelosi information -- the GOP leader "didn't know at that time."

I don't expect much from the minority leader, but even for him, this was pitiful. McCarthy is desperate to assign blame, and scrambling to think of someone to hold responsible, but he's going to comical lengths to point the finger at the real culprit -- who happens to be the former president McCarthy already blamed earlier this year.