During an interview with NPR reporter Claudia Grisales, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) allegedly “shoved” Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN).
The incident took place as House lawmakers are preparing to vote on a stopgap spending measure put forth by the current House Speaker, Mike Johnson (R-LA), aiming to avert a government shutdown at midnight on Friday.
Burchett was one of eight House Republicans who voted with all Democrats last month to oust McCarthy from the leadership position, after McCarthy passed an initial stopgap in September.
According to Grisales, she was speaking with Burchett when McCarthy “walked by with his detail and McCarthy shoved Burchett. Burchett lunged towards me. I thought it was a joke, it was not. And a chase ensued.”
In a thread on social media, Grisales described the confrontation that followed:
“Burchett responded jokingly as McCarthy kept walking, ‘Sorry Kevin didn’t mean to elbow—’ then seriously yelled, ‘why’d you elbow me in the back Kevin?! Hey Kevin, you got any guts!?'”
McCarthy reportedly denied that he had elbowed Burchett, to which Burchett responded that McCarthy had “no guts.”
When Grisales asked Burchett if McCarthy had ever done that before, he said no.
Soon afterward, Burchett was interviewed by CNN’s Manu Raju. The lawmaker described the incident, and accused McCarthy of delivering a “clean shot to the kidneys” that he said still hurt.
“You just don’t expect a guy who was once three steps away from the White House to sucker—to hit you with a sucker punch in the hallway,” Burchett told Raju.
“I’m probably not going to do an ethics complaint on him; he’s not worth it,” Burchett added. “You know, he’s gonna be gone here either after Christmas or next year.”
When Raju asked Burchett if he was accusing McCarthy of assault, he replied, “I don’t know. It’s over. Ask a lawyer as far as I’m concerned.”
McCarthy told CNN’s Melanie Zanona that a “tight hallway” was to blame for the physical contact, and denied that he didn’t purposely shove or elbow Burchett.