In the fallout of a Tuesday incident between former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN), Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has filed a formal ethics complaint against McCarthy.
In a press release from Gaetz’s congressional office, the Congressman wrote, “It has come to my attention that this morning, November 14, 2023, following a meeting of the House Republican Conference, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) assaulted Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN) in the hallways of Capitol complex. This assault was witnessed by numerous people, including Claudia Griseles of NPR, who was interviewing Rep. Burchett at the time.”
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) November 14, 2023
He continued, “For his part, Rep. Burchett has described the attack as a ‘sucker punch’ and ‘a clean shot to the kidney.'”
“Needless to say, this incident deserves immediate and swift investigation by the Ethics Committee. This Congress has seen a substantial increase in breaches of decorum unlike anything we have seen since the pre-Civil War era. I myself have been a victim of outrageous conduct on the House floor as well, but nothing like an open and public assault on a Member, committed by another Member. The rot starts at the top.
While Rep. Burchett is within his rights to decline to press charges against Rep. McCarthy, your Committee does have a duty to investigate breaches of the binding Code of Official Conduct, whose first rule is that “A Member… shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.” There is substantial evidence that Rep. McCarthy breached this duty.
Given Rep. Burchett’s comments on the matter, and the statements of public witnesses, I request the House Committee on Ethics to proceed immediately with an investigation into the facts of today’s incident, including interviewing, under oath, the alleged assailant and assailee, and any witnesses.”
As previously reported by Trending Politics throughout the day on Tuesday, the controversy unfolded while Grisales and another NPR reporter Lexie Schapitl were conducting a hallway interview with Burchett. In her account along with audio released by Grisales, McCarthy and his security detail reportedly seemed to shove Burchett aside prompting an angry reaction from Burchett who sought to confront McCarthy over the incident.
Burchett's back was to McCarthy and his detail walking by in the hallway, then the lunge.
Burchett responded jokingly as McCarthy kept walking, "Sorry Kevin didn't mean to elbow –" then seriously yelled, "why'd you elbow me in the back Kevin?! Hey Kevin, you got any guts!?"
— Claudia Grisales (@cgrisales) November 14, 2023
McCarthy would later downplay the incident claiming to the press, “I guess our shoulders hit. I did not run and hit the guy. I did not kidney punch him.”
Challenged by reporters, the former Speaker seemed to lose his composure: “There is, Ok, not a place — show me a reporter who saw that! Call Bruce Westerman! No, ask Bruce Westerman. I did not go up — If I would hit somebody, they would know I hit them.”