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Kevin McCarthy Dances in Circles to Defend Trump After Israel Comments

In an interview Thursday on Fox News, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) declined to condemn Donald Trump for describing the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah as “very smart” during a speech the previous night.

On Special Report, McCarthy was also asked about the former president criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not being “prepared” for last Saturday’s deadly attack by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Trump’s stance could be connected to Netanyahu’s decision to congratulate Joe Biden for his 2020 election win, anchor Bret Baier suggested, citing a December 2021 Axios article in which Trump is quoted as saying that the prime minister “made a terrible mistake” in doing so.

“Do you think this is personal for the former president?” Baier asked. “What do you make of these comments yesterday?”

“I don’t know about these comments, because I’ve witnessed these two men together,” began McCarthy, who has appeared hesitant to speak ill of Trump since the California Republican faulted him for the events of Jan. 6—and then smoothed things over with a Mar-a-Lago meeting and photo-op weeks later.

“Think about what President Trump accomplished: the Abraham Accords, something we haven’t seen in years,” McCarthy continued, referring to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recognizing Israel’s sovereignty in 2020, before a frustrated Baier interjected.

“I get all of that,” he said, “but what about the comments this week, this time, at this moment?”

“Those comments are not the comments that I’ve seen him [make] with [Netanyahu], and I’ve been with the prime minister many times. I’ve been with President Trump. I’ve been with them together. They have a bond together. So I don’t think that is a normal thing that President Trump would say about him,” McCarthy said.

Baier again referenced how Trump hadn’t spoken with Netanyahu for months after being voted out of office—and possibly to this day still hasn’t. When the Fox anchor asked McCarthy how that factors into the current situation, the California Republican sidestepped the question.

“I think at this moment, everybody has to be united,” he said.

“This looks a lot like the 1930s. You have this axis of evil, these powers: Iran, Russia and China. This is a much different world than when President Trump was in [office]. Now we have war in Ukraine, we have war in Israel, we have embassies, five embassies we had to evacuate, we have a wide open border, we’ve got inflation,” McCarthy said, before criticizing the Biden administration.


October 2023