BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — An altercation on Capitol Hill allegedly initiated by Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy made headlines Tuesday.
Though McCarthy didn’t respond to multiple interview requests, 17’s Jenny Huh spoke one-on-one with Representative Tim Burchett (R-Tennessee), who said he was elbowed in the back by the former House speaker.
“I think it just kind of showed why he did not need to be speaker anymore,” Burchett said.
The Tennessee congressman said the first conversation he had with Kevin McCarthy since McCarthy’s ouster from speakership was started by the Bakersfield native’s alleged elbowing of Burchett.
Burchett is one of the eight Republicans who voted to remove McCarthy as Speaker. He further detailed the incident.
“I was doing an interview with a very nice lady named Claudia [Grisales], who is a reporter for NPR,” Burchett began. “And it was just us in the hall. And as I was standing there, somebody came by and elbowed me in the kidneys. And I kind of fell into [Grisales]. And she said, something like, ‘I cannot believe that just happened. I’ve never seen that before.’”
Grisales, who was with Burchett in the hallway where it happened, posted on social media that McCarthy shoved Burchett, which resulted in a chase.
In an audio recording of the incident, Burchett can be heard shouting “Why’d you elbow in the back Kevin?! Hey Kevin, you got any guts!? Jerk.”
McCarthy can be heard chuckling, denying he elbowed his colleague.
Congressman McCarthy denied the allegation on CNN, saying it was a tight hallway and he inadvertently bumped. Burchett said this altercation speaks more to McCarthy’s character and is not an indication of how the House GOP appears to be.
Florida representative Matt Gaetz, who introduced the motion to remove McCarthy as speaker, has filed an ethics complaint against him.
It reads, “The rot starts at the top” and “This Congress has seen a substantial increase in breaches of decorum unlike anything we have seen since the pre-Civil War era.”
“I appreciate Representative Gatez having my back,” Burchett said in response, making clear he did not encourage Gaetz to take action. “But I didn’t ask for it. And I’m not going to pursue that.”
The representative further explained that back in Tennessee, “if you’re going to get into it with somebody, it’s face-to-face, man-to-man kind of thing. It’s not this kind of stuff, which I hope it’s not a California initiative.”
Gaetz declined an interview with 17 News. While he was not at the scene, anyone can file a complaint with the House Ethics Committee.
Burchett, who told Huh multiple times McCarthy is quote spiraling downward, says the incident could be an indicator of McCarthy’s limited time in Congress.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that he won’t [run],” Burchett said. “He’ll end up being a lobbyist, and being a former Speaker, I’m sure he’ll start out with well over a million dollars a year easily.”
Burchett also explained he and McCarthy once had a “friendly” relationship. But once McCarthy “belittled” Burchett’s religious belief and failed to pass a government spending plan he agreed with, he “just couldn’t continue down this road.”
“He’s spiraling downward, and I wish him well,” Burchett commented.
Burchett said he has yet to hear directly from McCarthy following the hallway incident.
When asked whether he was in any pain, Burchett said he wouldn’t even comment on the question, saying, “I’m okay. I’m a tough guy. I live on a little farm. I ride motorcycles.”