- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has become one of President Donald Trump’s closest Republican allies in Congress; so much that McCarthy once gifted Trump a jar of Starburst candies after a trip on Air Force One last fall.
- Trump and the Republican from California grew close toward the end of the 2016 election when McCarthy called Trump regularly to update him on happenings in Congress, and offer him political advice.
- Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed reservations about McCarthy’s cozying up to a president constantly embroiled in political drama.
Kevin McCarthy, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, has been cozying up to President Donald Trump. The apparent friendship between the two men began toward the end of the 2016 election and has only grown since then.
According to a Washington Post report published on Monday, McCarthy, who represents California’s 23rd District as House Majority Leader, has become one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, even as the president finds himself repeatedly mired in scandal.
During an October trip on Air Force One, McCarthy found himself alone with Trump in the presidential suite on Air Force One, The Post’s Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa wrote. Trump and McCarthy bonded while eating Starburst candies. McCarthy noticed that Trump only ate the cherry and strawberry flavors.
The California Republican later told a staffer to put together a jar of the red and pink Starbursts for Trump. McCarthy put his name on the jar, which was delivered to the president. McCarthy was unabashed about his gesture, telling The Post “He remembers everything. Of course I put my name on the jar.”
McCarthy has used his closeness to Trump to guide his thinking on some key policy issues, like the bipartisan wrangling over a deal to protect immigrants brought to the US as children, whose protections hang in the balance while lawmakers struggle to reach an agreement.
McCarthy spoke up during a televised meeting with Trump and a bipartisan group of lawmakers last week, urging Trump to push for border-security protections before any deal is reached. Days later, he came to Trump’s defense during the most recent scandal over vulgar language Trump used during another meeting on immigration.
Other congressional lawmakers have expressed reservations about McCarthy publicly cozying up to Trump, some of whom believe it will enable some of Trump’s worst behaviors.