The tension between Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Republican lawmakers who voted to remove him as speaker turned physical on Tuesday after the ousted speaker appeared to hit one of them.
The incident occurred while Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) was speaking to NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales after a GOP conference meeting and McCarthy “walked by with his detail and shoved Burchett.”
“Burchett lunged towards me. I thought it was a joke, it was not. And a chase ensued,” Grisales said.
Burchett reportedly yelled at McCarthy: “why’d you elbow me in the back Kevin?! Hey Kevin, you got any guts!?” according to Grisales.
He also called McCarthy a “jerk” and when asked by Grisales if the former speaker has ever shoved him before, Burchett responded “no” then took off down the hallway chasing after McCarthy.
“Hey Kevin, why’d you walk behind me and elbow me in the back?,” Burchett yelled.
“I didn’t elbow you in the back,” McCarthy responded.
“You got no guts, you did so, …the reporter said it right there, what kind of chicken move is that? You’re pathetic man, you are so pathetic,” Burchett fired back.
“You need security Kevin!” Burchett yelled as he walked away.
Burchett is one of the eight Republicans who voted with all Democrats to remove McCarthy as Speaker last month. McCarthy has since dubbed them the “crazy eight” and questioned whether they are are even conservatives.
“I don’t believe them to be conservatives,” McCarthy said of the eight Republicans in a recent interview with CNN. “It’s driven by Gaetz, and it was all based upon an ethics complaint that happened in the last Congress. He would throw his country away to try to protect himself for what would come out as the truth.”
Burchett told Grisales that McCarthy hasn’t spoken to him since his vote to remove last month and the incident Tuesday was the first point of “communication” with the former Speaker.
“I was one of eight that voted him out,” Burchett told reporters later Tuesday, calling McCarthy a “bully.”
“He’s mean and he knows it,” Burchett added. “It’s not very surprising. It was uncool. A guy throws a rock over the fence when he was a kid and runs home and hides behind his momma’s skirt. He’s got his security detail around, he knows nobody’s gonna do anything to him.”
McCarthy for his part told CNN that the hallway where he passed Burchett was tight, denying that he shoved or elbowed him.