WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Trump-backed Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida filed an ethics complaint on Tuesday against GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy, alleging the ousted former House speaker committed assault against a fellow congressman who voted against him in an incident that requires “immediate and swift investigation.”
“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,” Gaetz wrote in the complaint, filed with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Ethics.
“This assault was witnessed by numerous people, including Claudia Griseles of NPR, who was interviewing Rep. Burchett at the time,” he said.
Gaetz, who led the unprecedented and successful effort to oust McCarthy from his role as House speaker last month, argued that the incident “deserves immediate and swift investigation by the Ethics Committee.”
Prior to successfully ousting McCarthy, Gaetz had argued that the former House speaker was cutting against Republican interests by joining Democrats in voting for a funding extension that, he said, would “continue the Green New Deal” and “inflationary spending,” as well as “the election interference of [Trump prosecutor] Jack Smith.”
However, McCarthy has argued that the ouster was “personal” and part of an effort by Gaetz to gain attention and fundraising dollars.
Gaetz said in the Tuesday complaint that Rep. Burchett, who joined him in voting to oust McCarthy last month, claimed the former House speaker hit him with a “sucker punch” and “a clean shot to the kidney.”
In comments to reporters, Burchett said McCarthy struck him as he passed by in the Capitol hallway and that the assault was “100% on purpose.”
According to NPR, the Tennessee Republican “stumbled forward and yelled after McCarthy, ‘Why’d you elbow me in the back, Kevin?! Hey Kevin, you got any guts?!’”
McCarthy allegedly continued walking and did not respond.
Rep. Burchett told CNN This Morning on Wednesday that he doesn’t hold a grudge against the California Republican and described the incident as a “bizarre thing that just happened.”
“I’m sure right after he did it, he regretted it,” Burchett said. “I’ve moved on; I’ve got no vengeance towards him. I prayed for him this morning, as a matter of fact, because I know he’s hurting.”
“It’s just a sad commentary on his life,” he said. “I’m sorry for him. I really am. I feel sorry for him.”
McCarthy has denied assaulting Burchett in comments to CNN, describing the incident as an accident and noting that the hallway was “tight.”
“I guess our elbows hit as I walked by,” he later told reporters. “I didn’t punch anyone.”
In his complaint, however, Gaetz argued that the present 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,” he said. “The rot starts at the top.”
Gaetz was involved in a separate incident earlier this year when Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama angrily confronted the Florida congressman on the House floor and appeared to be “on the verge of violence” after Gaetz refused to vote for McCarthy as House speaker, The Washington Post reported. North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson restrained Rogers and led him away, later saying that the incident “spoke for itself.”
The Florida Republican is himself the subject of an ethics complaint for allegations including sexual misconduct and drug use.
In his Tuesday complaint, Gaetz claimed that McCarthy “breached” his “duty” under the House’s Code of Official Conduct, which requires that members “behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”
“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,” the Florida Republican wrote.
Burchett has said he does not plan to file charges against McCarthy.