Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) slammed Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) as a joke and said he belongs in jail.
McCarthy made the comments to Politico in an interview when asked about Florida Republicans in the House.
“You have a cross section,” McCarthy said. “You have [Matt] Gaetz, who belongs in jail, and you have serious members.”
McCarthy did not not say what specifically Gaetz should be in jail for, but in 2021, he was investigated by the Department of Justice for alleged sex trafficking. That case was closed without any charges brought against him. However, the congressman is still being investigated by the House Ethics Committee following reports he showed naked pictures of women to colleagues on the House floor.
McCarthy told the Daily Mail this week that Gaetz’s conduct is worse than what Rep. George Santos (R-NY) did, but did not say whether the Florida lawmaker should be expelled from the House after the ethics committee release their report.
“From what people have said and written about it, it seems even worse than Santos,” he said. Santos has been indicted on multiple federal charges, including identify theft, and faces a potential expulsion from Congress.
McCarthy’s comments come amid an ongoing feud between him and Gaetz which culminated in October when the Florida lawmaker led a successful effort to oust McCarthy as House Speaker.
Gaetz fired back at McCarthy’s jail comment, telling Politico: “Tough words from a guy who sucker punches people in the back. The only assault I committed was against Kevin’s fragile ego.”
Gaetz was referencing an incident in the hallway of the Capitol building where McCarthy allegedly shoved Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.)–one of the Republicans who voted to oust him– while he was speaking with a reporter.
Gaetz has filed an ethics complaint against McCarthy over the incident.