Far-right Republican Representative Matt Gaetz isn’t stepping down his apparent all-out assault on fellow Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy.
Even after successfully leading a vote that removed McCarthy as the Speaker of the House, Gaetz is still aggressively pursuing taking the California representative down.
This week, Gaetz formally filed an ethics complaint against McCarthy. That followed an accusation levied by Republican Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee that McCarthy elbowed him on Tuesday while in a hallway at the Capitol building.
In a letter that he sent to Republican Representative Michael Guest, the chair of the Ethics Committee in the House, as well as the ranking Democrat on the panel, Susan Wild, Gaetz wrote:
“This incident deserves immediate and swift investigation by the Ethics committee. Congress has seen a substantial increase in breaches of decorum unlike anything we have ever seen since the pre-Civil War era.”
On Tuesday, witnesses saw that McCarthy bumped into Burchett as he was passing him in a hallway at the Capitol on Tuesday. Burchett in response said that McCarthy deliberately elbowed him in the back.
Later when speaking to reporters, McCarthy said he didn’t do anything deliberate to Burchett, and that he simply was trying to move past him in the hallway, which was small.
As McCarthy explained to reporters:
“I guess our elbows hit as I walked by. If I would (have) hit somebody, they would know I hit them.”
But, Gaetz was on Burchett’s side in this incident. As he wrote in his letter:
“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.”
What Gaetz was apparently referring to was an incident back in January when Republican Representative Mike Rogers, the chair of the Armed Services Committee in the House, lunged at him during the marathon voting session that ultimately resulted in McCarthy winning the gavel that he has now lost.
While Gaetz led the charge in removing McCarthy from the speaker’s role, Burchett is one of the eight GOP members of the House who, along with all Democrats in the lower chamber, voted to remove him from the leadership position.
All along, McCarthy has said that Gaetz’s motion to vacate was a personal move. He was quick to point out that Gaetz was a target of the Department of Justice as part of a trafficking investigation, though the DOJ declined to bring any formal charges against him.
Now, though, Gaetz is facing an Ethics Committee investigation himself. As such, McCarthy said that Gaetz is just retaliating against him since he didn’t quash that investigation when he was speaker.
When he was told that Gaetz had filed an ethics complaint against him, McCarthy responded in jest:
“Oh, good. I think Ethics is a good place for Gaetz to be.”
Speaking with CNN recently, McCarthy also said that Republican Representative Nancy Mace from South Carolina and Burchett – both of whom voted to remove McCarthy as speaker – “care a lot about press, not about policy.”