Kevin McCarthy (R-California) is the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and possible future Speaker of the House if the GOP takes control of the chamber in the November elections. He spoke to The Post recently on a wide range of subjects:
What is your big-picture assessment of the Ukraine crisis? How did we get here?
You don’t get to Ukraine overnight. … [Putin] watched what happened in Afghanistan, President Biden said he would not leave until every American was out. Two weeks later he left and left Americans there. …
You go back to the Obama administration and how he handled Syria, letting Russia get back into the Middle East where they hadn’t been for decades.
Then when [Biden] met with Putin personally and allowed him to have the [Nord Stream 2] pipeline for nothing, [Putin] saw weakness.
This is the 100th year anniversary of the Soviet Union’s creation, Dec. 30, 1922. Everyone knows Putin looks to bring the motherland back together. Secondly, when the Biden administration knew what Putin was going to do, they signed on Nov. 10 a charter of strategic partnership that asserted America’ s support for Kyiv’s right to pursue membership in NATO. … You sign a treaty, but you don’t supply [Ukraine] any of the weapons to defend themselves. You did it backwards.
Do you support NATO entry for Ukraine?
I wouldn’t be opposed to it. I actually traveled to Ukraine a number of years ago. I went to the administration when Biden was vice president … trying to get Americans to sell them Javelins [missiles].
Does Putin have any legitimate security concerns about the expansion of NATO at his doorstep?
In all of this Putin is wrong. Putin is evil. Putin is the one going in there murdering people. There was no provocation. There was no reason to enter Ukraine in any shape or form.
How would you rate President Biden’s performance regarding Ukraine?
Poor. America is not leading. Europe is leading. The weaponry its too late. … [Biden] said after [the Russians] enter I’ll do these sanctions. After you enter I will supply them with weapons. Well it’s too little too late and people are dying because of that decision. The Number 1 thing you want to do is not to have a war. You want deterrent. You want to show them the actions prior.
Do you believe Republicans will retake the House in the 2022 midterm elections?
Yes. If we are fortunate enough to win 18 seats it will be as big as 1994. I’m not saying that will happen. I am just giving you perspective … Let’s walk through the last election to understand this election. In the last election everybody predicted Republicans would lose 15 seats. They got the number right but the party wrong. … Democrats [today] have a five seat majority, the smallest majority they have had in about 100 years. … You have presidential approval ratings which have dropped to 37. … If you look at the issue set of what America cares most about right now — rising prices, crime, the border, education, foreign policy, Ukraine, Afghanistan — all of those are Democrat-created problems.
What are your top three legislative priorities if you take back the House?
First and foremost you have to end the economics of inflation. You have to stop the runaway spending, you have to make America energy independent. … Second, we’re going to make streets and neighborhoods safe again. There are a number of ways to do that. I’ll give you one example: we supply cop grants throughout the country. You can tie cop grants [to] … DAs enforcing the laws on the books. And don’t pick and choose, like in New York where you have this revolving door. We won’t defund the police, we’ll fund the police. … Education: We are going to make sure our parents have a say in our kids’ education.
In what areas would you exercise oversight over the Biden Administration?
We’re going to hold this administration accountable. … We will have subpoena power. We will be able to oversee why did Afghanistan happen the way it did, so that it can never happen again. We will get to the bottom of the Attorney General going after parents. … One of the main things we’re also going to do is the origins of Covid.
You have promised to remove several members from their committees if you retake the House. Is that true?
[Adam] Schiff [D-California] has made [The Intelligence Committee] a political committee. … I would remove [Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell [D-California] from the committee and not allow [them] to serve. Ilhan Omar [D-Minnesota], when it comes to foreign affairs — her comments, her directions, her antisemitism — I do not believe that is the best committee for her to be sitting on.
Can you save Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, the lone Republican in New York City who has been redistricted into a much tougher race?
Yes. You know what is going to save Nicole? How hard Nicole works.
Is Donald Trump still the leader of the Republican party? Is he running in 2024?
Donald Trump is the most popular Republican in the party today. We watched him help us win seats in Congress and I believe he will help us win the majority back in Congress as well. I don’t know if he is [running]. I think he looks at it and I think he makes that decision as we get closer. … If he’s going to run I would be there for him.