Kevin McCarthy accused of elbowing fellow Republican
Gaetz files ethics complaint against McCarthy for assault. McCarthy denies allegations. Burchett says it was accidental. Chaos in Republican Party.
Representative Matt Gaetz has filed an ethics complaint against ex-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for allegedly assaulting a fellow Republican. The incident occurred when Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee claimed that Mr. McCarthy "elbowed" him in the back while he was speaking with a reporter in Congress on Tuesday. This altercation comes in the midst of long-standing tension between Mr. McCarthy and his adversaries, including Mr. Burchett, who led efforts to oust him from the Speaker's office in October.
Mr. McCarthy has denied the allegations, stating that the physical contact was accidental. However, NPR journalist Claudia Grisales, who witnessed the interaction, described it as a deliberate action. The incident occurred just hours before Mr. McCarthy's replacement, new House Speaker Mike Johnson, faced his first major legislative test - a full House vote on his plan for avoiding a government shutdown.
In response to the incident, Mr. Burchett referred to Mr. McCarthy as a "bully with $17m and a security detail." Mr. McCarthy later dismissed the allegations, stating that if he had intentionally hit someone, they would have known it. However, Mr. Gaetz, an ultra-conservative, filed an ethics complaint, arguing that the incident warranted an immediate and swift investigation by the Ethics Committee.
In his complaint, Mr. Gaetz expressed concern over the increasing breaches of decorum in Congress, likening the current state to that of the pre-Civil War era. He also criticized the leadership, stating that "the rot starts at the top." When informed of Mr. Gaetz's complaint, Mr. McCarthy responded dismissively, suggesting that it was a fitting place for Mr. Gaetz to be involved in.
This incident adds to the chaos within the Republican Party, following the ousting of Mr. McCarthy from his post by eight right-wing Republicans, including Mr. Burchett. According to Mr. Burchett, this altercation was the first time he had spoken to Mr. McCarthy since voting against him last month.
Despite the incident, Mr. Burchett stated that he would not be pressing charges, expressing a desire for Mr. McCarthy to find happiness in his life. This altercation has further intensified the ongoing turmoil within the Republican Party, raising concerns about the state of decorum and leadership within Congress.