Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's new book Peril, available Tuesday, revealed a bizarre final moment after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol but before former President Donald Trump left the White House.
It was after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made a panicked call to Trump as his congressional office was being destroyed by the insurrectionists. Trump notoriously told McCarthy, "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."
With Trump writing his note to incoming President Joe Biden, he called McCarthy to tell him it was done.
"McCarthy grew emotional," the book describes. "Trump was not going to be attending the inauguration. It was a far cry from their sessions at Mar-a-Lago and on Air Force One, where they traded political stories and ate Starbursts, Trump's favorite candy."
"I don't know what happened to you in the last two months," McCarthy told Trump. "You're not the same as you were for the last four years. You've done good things and you want that to be your legacy. Call Joe Biden."
Reportedly Trump refused and McCarthy said over and over again, "Call Joe Biden," ultimately exclaiming it at the outgoing president. Trump never did.
The idea that Trump was somehow "different" or that he "changed" has become a thread from some of the Republicans featured in the book. Former Speaker Paul Ryan was similarly shocked in 2018 when Trump had an Oval Office meltdown. He was told at the time that it was like that every day. He had no idea.
Speaking on MSNBC Monday, host Lawrence O'Donnell noted the bizarre realization that Trump was far more volatile than Republican leader fully realized.
"A stream of people from Paul Ryan on, saying 'I just can't believe what this guy is like,' and they all — I don't get it because he seemed incredibly, totally transparent to me as a campaigner for the president," said O'Donnell. "He was absolutely consistent as a deranged campaigner for the presidency. He was advertising that the presidency will have a deranged person in the Oval Office, and these people ended up being surprised that he really was as crazy as he appeared to be."