“We can’t put up with that,” Mr. McCarthy said, adding, “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?”
Mr. McCarthy “never said that particular members should be removed from Twitter,” Mr. Bednar said.
Other Republican leaders in the House agreed with Mr. McCarthy that the president’s behavior deserved swift punishment. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking House Republican, said on one call that it was time for the G.O.P. to contemplate a “post-Trump Republican House,” while Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the head of the party’s House campaign committee, suggested censuring Mr. Trump.
Yet none of the men followed through on their tough talk in those private conversations.
In the following days, Mr. McCarthy heard from some Republican lawmakers who advised against confronting Mr. Trump. In one group conversation, Representative Bill Johnson of Ohio cautioned that conservative voters back home “go ballistic” in response to criticism of Mr. Trump, demanding that Republicans instead train their denunciations on Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden.
“I’m just telling you that that’s the kind of thing that we’re dealing with, with our base,” Mr. Johnson said.
When only 10 House Republicans joined with Democrats to support impeaching Mr. Trump on Jan. 13, the message to Mr. McCarthy was clear.
By the end of the month, he was pursuing a rapprochement with Mr. Trump, visiting him at Mar-a-Lago and posing for a photograph. (“I didn’t know they were going to take a picture,” Mr. McCarthy said, somewhat apologetically, to one frustrated lawmaker.)