Kevin McCarthy faces an ethics complaint after he punched a fellow Republican congressman in the back on Capitol Hill
Former US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy allegedly assaulted one of his Republican colleagues who voted last month to oust him from his powerful position, prompting an ethics complaint from the fierce revolutionary leader.
The incident reportedly occurred on Tuesday, while Rep. Tim Burchett was speaking with NPR correspondent Claudia Grisalis in a corridor of the US Capitol, after a closed-door meeting of GOP lawmakers. Burchett, a Republican from Tennessee, said McCarthy elbowed him in the back as he walked behind him. Grisalis said she saw McCarthy push Burchett from behind, causing Burchett to lunge at her.
Burchett’s reaction to the alleged hit can be heard in audio of the incident. At one point, he followed McCarthy into the hallway and asked the former Speaker why he had hit him in the back. McCarthy denied elbowing him, at which point Burchett said: “You don’t have the guts. You did it…the reporter over there said it. What kind of chicken move is that? You’re pathetic, man.”
Burchett later told reporters that McCarthy was protected by his bodyguards after the traumatic blow, which he described as… “Clean shot for the kidneys.” He said he believed the incident was retaliation for his decision to vote with seven other Republicans to remove McCarthy as Speaker of the House — the first such ouster in US history.
“A man threw a rock over the fence when he was a child and then ran home and hid behind his mother’s skirt.” Burchett said. “He’s got his security detail around him. He knows no one will do anything to him.”
McCarthy, a Republican from California, denied pushing or elbowing his colleague, telling CNN that the hallway he passed behind Burchett was narrow.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican who led the campaign to replace McCarthy as Speaker of the House, filed an ethics complaint in the wake of the alleged assault.
“This Congress has seen a dramatic increase in violations of decorum unlike anything we have seen since the antebellum era.” Gaetz wrote in his complaint. “I personally have been a victim of egregious behavior on the House floor as well, but there is nothing like an open and public assault on one member, perpetrated by another. The rot starts at the top.”
The alleged incident came on the same day a US senator nearly struck a witness during a committee hearing. Republican Markwayne Mullen of Oklahoma confronted Teamsters President Sean O’Brien over a social media post in which a union official accused the senator of playing a role. “Strong man act” He challenged him to a fight “Anywhere, anytime, cowboy.”
“Sir, this is the time, this is the place, if you want to speak out loud.” Mullen said. “We can be consenting adults; we can end it here.”
“Okay that’s good. Excellent. I’d love to do that now.” O’Brien answered.
When Mullen stood up and began moving toward O’Brien, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont who chairs the committee, intervened to prevent the brawl.
“This is hearing” Sanders said. “God knows the American people have enough contempt for Congress. Let’s not make it worse.”
Mullen, a businessman who was sworn in as a senator earlier this year, fought and won three mixed martial arts bouts in 2006 and 2007.