Surprisingly, Tim Burchett, a Republican in the House, has accused Kevin McCarthy, the former Speaker of the House, of assault during a GOP conference meeting. The event transpired as Burchett said McCarthy delivered a “sucker punch” that struck his kidney, according to NPR’s Claudia Grisales. Grisales said that the fight happened in a packed hallway following Tuesday’s GOP conference meeting.
Burchett called McCarthy’s hit a “clean shot to the kidneys,” claiming that McCarthy harbored resentment toward Republicans who supported his removal after a humiliating and short term as Speaker.
McCarthy refuted the charge and blamed the commotion in the hallway. Things escalated fast from what seemed like a joke, with Burchett questioning McCarthy’s behavior and calling him a “jerk.”
In an interview that followed, Burchett talked further about the incident and stressed that the abrupt impact took him off unprepared. He spoke with CNN’s Manu Raju about the incident. McCarthy’s purported use of a “sucker punch” strategy reminiscent of juvenile antics was denounced by the speaker, who called McCarthy a “bully with $17 million dollars and a security detail”.
Burchett noted the distinction between East Tennessee’s conflict resolution practices and McCarthy’s handling of the incident. Burchett was one of eight Republicans who voted to remove McCarthy from the House Speakership. Burchett said, “If we have a problem with somebody, I’m gonna look them in the eye and talk to them.”
The event highlights internal divides within the GOP that have been boiling since McCarthy’s resignation and adds another layer of friction to the party. It is unclear how this altercation will affect the dynamics among House Republicans and their capacity to put up a cohesive front as the charges and denials pile up.