Tennessee Republican Representative Tim Burchett recounted for CNN an incident this morning when former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy came up behind him and elbowed him with a "clean shot to the kidneys."
Burchett said he was "in the middle of an interview" with NPR reporter Claudia Grisales when he was "elbowed in the back" and "caught off guard." When he turned around, he realized McCarthy was the culprit.
"I chased after him. As I've said many times, he's a bully with $17 million and a security detail and he's the type of guy who when you were a kid, he'd throw a rock over the fence and then run home and hide behind his mama's skirt." ...
"That's not the way we handle things in East Tennessee. When I've got a problem with somebody I look them in the eye."
You can hear what Burchett said in the video below.
Burchett said he chased after McCarthy to demand an explanation but that the former Speaker "did what he always does, denies it and then blames somebody else," saying the encounter was a "heated one" but that he nonetheless chose to "back off."
He pointed to Grisales' account on X, formerly Twitter, to corroborate his story and indeed, she confirmed that McCarthy "walked by with his detail and [he] shoved Burchett." Grisales said the shove was strong enough for Burchett to "lunge" forward.
Grisales said Burchett's back was to McCarthy at the time of the incident. She said Burchett yelled at McCarthy and accused him of not having "any guts" to face him directly.
She said Burchett told her McCarthy had never acted that way before. When the "chase ensued," she "chased behind with [her] mic."
She later said Burchett told her that McCarthy's behavior is "on a downhill spiral" and that the shove "just showed what he's about and it's unfortunate."
The discord between Burchett and McCarthy stems from their strained relationship, culminating in Burchett's vote to remove McCarthy from the Speaker's office. McCarthy's ouster made him the first Speaker in U.S. history to be removed during a legislative session; Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz initiated the "motion to vacate" leading to McCarthy's removal.
Many have called out McCarthy's behavior in response.
Burchett later told Fox News he didn't plan on taking further action against McCarthy and would not file a House Ethics complaint because "ethics complaints go on for years, and [McCarthy's] going to be out of here after Christmas."
The altercation between the two representatives underscores the heightened tensions within the Republican Party—but if you ask Burchett, "We’re not having duels out here."
When asked what the incident says about the current state of Congress, he pushed back, saying it was simply "human nature" and that things are as they've "always been."