Who’s the biggest loser: McConnell or McCarthy?

For years, Capitol Hill reporters have assured Americans that privately, Republicans disparage Donald Trump and can't wait to get rid of him.

Now we are finally getting some real audio to back that up, and what it exposes is exactly what a bunch of losers GOP lawmakers are—GOP leadership in particular.

The recordings, made in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection, were unearthed by two New York Times reporters, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, whose book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future will be released next month.

The reporters released one piece of audio Thursday between House GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and then-House GOP Communications Chief Liz Cheney. Friday, on CNN, they released two more pieces of McCarthy audio, one from a Jan. 10 phone call with an inner circle of House GOP leaders and another from a Jan. 11 call with the entire Republican caucus.

The phone calls reveal a man who is absolutely desperate to rid himself of Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

"I've had it with this guy," McCarthy tells the GOP leadership team on Jan. 10. "What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend it, and nobody should defend it.”

Listen to Jennifer Fernandez Ancona from Way to Win explain how Democrats must message to win on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast with Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld

No one, that is, until he ran down to Mar-a-Lago three weeks later to beg Trump's forgiveness.

On Jan. 11, McCarthy was a little less pointed in his conversation with the wider caucus, but still talking tough.

"Let me be very clear to all of you, and I've been very clear to the president: He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No ifs, ands, or buts," McCarthy said.

No ifs, ands, or buts—until he ran his hiney down to Mar-a-Lago three weeks later to beg Trump's forgiveness.

McCarthy then told the caucus that he asked Trump directly if he bore responsibility for what happened on Jan. 6 and if he feels badly about it.

"He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened. And he need [sic] to acknowledge that," McCarthy reported back to the caucus.

That will probably be news to Trump, the notion that he took responsibility for something—anything, really—let alone the violent Jan. 6 coup attempt.

Senate GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also had some choice words on Jan. 11, telling two advisers of the impending House impeachment, “The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us."

According to the Times' Martin and Burns, McConnell told the aides he expected the Senate would convict Trump, with a strong contingent of Republicans voting accordingly. At least 17 Republicans would be needed to seal Trump's fate if all 50 Democrats voted in favor, and McConnell clearly thought he had the votes.

But once McConnell took the temperature of the caucus, he didn't. And ol' masterful Mitch also didn't have the leadership skills to deliver the votes. As McConnell recently admitted publicly, "moral red lines" aren't exactly his thing.

"He didn’t ascend to power by siding with the minority, he explained to a friend," write Martin and Burns.

As for McCarthy's leadership, just two days after that Jan. 11 call with the entire GOP caucus, he pretended it never happened at his weekly press conference.

“Did you tell House Republicans on their January 11 phone call that President Trump told you he agreed that he bore some responsibility for January 6?" a reporter asked.

“I'm not sure what call you're talking about," replied McCarthy.

Now there's a guy with some unshakable moral fortitude.

And so here we sit in the spring of 2022 with Trump still the 2024 GOP favorite even as he complicates the path for congressional Republicans to retake the majority. In fact, it's not exactly clear why he would want either McCarthy or McConnell to regain control of their chambers.

The biggest guessing game on Capitol Hill Friday morning was how hard Trump would come down on McCarthy. That seems doubtful. McCarthy is a useful idiot who will do absolutely anything Trump says in his desperate bid to become speaker of the House one day.

On Friday morning, McCarthy wasn't running around trying to rehabilitate his public image, he was madly ringing up all his colleagues to assure them that Trump isn't angry with him, according to Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman.

So who's the biggest loser? Broadly speaking, both Mitch and Kev are epic losers in the leadership department. They both wanted to rid themselves of the Trump plague with every fiber of their being, and yet capitulated to him at a time when Trump was at his lowest, most vulnerable political moment since he had announced his 2016 candidacy for president.

Dooming Trump was completely within reach, and neither of them had the grit or determination to follow through. Thus, Trump is still ruling their world.

More specifically, who will be the biggest loser of Trump's wrath? Likely McConnell, precisely because he's not the exquisite bootlicker that McCarthy is.

McCarthy gladly and immediately laying himself belly up at Trump's feet while McConnell doesn't will simply remind Trump how deeply he loathes McConnell.

He’ll be coming for McConnell. Trump can throw McCarthy under the bus later.

Ten House Republicans voted to impeach Trump. Some then fell silent while others spoke up

In the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that Donald Trump both inspired and declined to stop, 10 House Republicans chose to cast their votes to impeach the GOP commander in chief.

Many political journalists seem to believe those Republicans made the wrong political bet in a moment when it appeared Republican leadership might actually be up to the task of breaking with Trump. A recent New York Times article suggested the group made a "fundamental miscalculation about the direction of their party."

For some, that may be true, but many in the small cadre likely took a vote of conscience and concluded they couldn't look at the themselves in the mirror if they had done otherwise.

One of them, former rising GOP star Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, called Jan. 6 a "line-in-the-sand moment."

"I don’t believe he can ever be president again,” Gonzalez said in a September interview announcing he would not seek reelection. “Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal."

Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, some have decided not to run for reelection, others have grown outspokenly defiant, and still others are laying low in hopes the storm will blow over by the time November rolls around. But it's fair to say everyone in the small clique has trod an unusually thorny path over the past year.

So far, Trump has endorsed primary opponents for at least five of them, including Gonzalez (who's retiring), Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, and Peter Meijer and Fred Upton of Michigan, who serve neighboring districts on the west side of the state.

Though Michigan's redistricting has left Upton's GOP challengers in flux, the 35-year House veteran doesn't appear to be relishing the current environment on the Hill.

“You’ve got metal detectors now going on the House floor. We get really nasty threats at home. The tone gets, you know, tougher and tougher, and it’s a pretty toxic place,” he told CNN last month. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Meijer, a freshman congressman, thinks that if anyone miscalculated, it's the GOP members who believed the party was moving beyond Trump when they took the easy way out and gave him a pass.

“The view among some was that this would be essentially a self-correcting issue,” Meijer said of Trump. “I think that’s proven overly optimistic.”

Four of them, according to the Times, have fallen unmistakably silent, including Reps. John Katko of New York, Dan Newhouse of Washington, Tom Rice of South Carolina, and David Valadao of California.

And it's surely no secret at this point that two of them have doubled down, serving on the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 while making it their mission to reclaim the party from Trump.

"The 2020 election was not stolen,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said in a video message Wednesday marking the anniversary of Jan. 6. “Joe Biden won, and Donald Trump lost. We have to admit it. But the leadership of the Republican Party won’t. They lied to the American people and continue to push the big lie and echo the conspiracy theories that line their pockets, keeping them in power."

Kinzinger, who was redistricted out of a seat, included a link to country1st.com, a new PAC with the stated mission to "Defeat Toxic Tribalism."

And finally there's Cheney, who has been the least squeamish of all of them about laying the current threat plaguing the country at the feet of Republicans alone.

“Our party has to choose,” Cheney told the Times. “We can either be loyal to Donald Trump, or we can be loyal to the Constitution, but we cannot be both. And right now, there are far too many Republicans who are trying to enable the former president, embrace the former president, look the other way and hope that the former president goes away.”