(VitalNews.org) – Tennessee Rep. Tim Burchett has accused former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of elbowing him in the back in retaliation for Burchett voting to oust him from his role as Speaker. Burchett, also a Republican, claimed the incident took place at Capitol Hill on Tuesday November 14 after a Republican conference meeting.
Burchett’s claim was corroborated by NPR reporter Claudia Grisales, who was interviewing Burchett in a corridor following the party meeting. She claimed to have seen McCarthy push his colleague in the back as he walked past the pair of them. Grisales said that she thought it was a playful gesture at first, but changed her mind quickly as Burchett began to follow McCarthy, demanding an explanation. Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman, who was speaking with McCarthy at the time of the alleged assault, however, said that he did not witness any pushing or elbowing.
Burchett, one of eight of McCarthy’s GOP colleagues to vote to remove him from the speakership, told reporters that McCarthy elbowed him in the kidneys on purpose as he walked past. Burchett pursued him along the corridor, asking why he had done so, but McCarthy denied purposefully hitting or nudging him. McCarthy has since maintained that if any contact was made, it was accidental and a result of passing his colleague in a crowded corridor full of members of the press. McCarthy added that if he ever were to hit somebody in the kidneys, they would end up “on the ground”.
Following the incident, Burchett called McCarthy a “bully” who hides behind a security detail. Burchett has declined to file any formal complaint, saying that if the two were to deal with the alleged incident, it would instead be dealt with via a fist fight in a parking lot. Despite this, Rep. Matt Gaetz, who led the campaign to remove McCarthy from the House Speaker role, has called for the House Committee on Ethics to investigate the incident.
The alleged shove came on the same day that Republican Oklahoma Senator Markwayne Mullin was admonished by Democrat Bernie Sanders after he challenged a witness to a physical fight. The witness had been speaking before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee when Mullin made his challenge. Chairman Sanders is reported to have castigated Mullin, telling him to act like a Senator rather than a cage fighter.
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