Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) slammed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Tuesday after The New York Times published a report that featured recorded comments from the two congressmen airing concerns about the Florida Republican’s remarks following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Gaetz in a statement posted to Twitter called McCarthy and Scalise “weak men.”
“Rep McCarthy and Rep. Scalise held views about President Trump and me that they shared on sniveling calls with Liz Cheney, not us,” Gaetz wrote. “This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the Times reported that McCarthy, during a call with GOP leadership on Jan. 10, 2021, said Gaetz was “putting people in jeopardy.” He was particularly concerned with comments the Florida Republican made that attacked Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, according to the Times.
“And he doesn’t need to be doing this. We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know, and these people came prepared with rope, with everything else,” McCarthy said on the call while discussing Gaetz.
Scalise also expressed worries regarding Gaetz’s comments, suggesting that the remarks could be unlawful.
“This is serious stuff. It has to stop,” Scalise said. “It’s potentially illegal what he’s doing.”
Also on the Jan. 10 call, McCarthy denounced Republicans calling out their colleagues, saying that it has “got to stop.”
“These members calling out other members, that stuff’s got to stop,” McCarthy said.
“The tension is too high. The country is too crazy. I do not want to look back and think we caused something. … I don’t want to play politics with any of that,” he added.
McCarthy said he received a report of Gaetz calling people out and dubbing them “anti-Trump,” adding that “this is serious stuff people are doing that has to stop.”
Gaetz on Tuesday said McCarthy and Scalise were “protecting Liz Cheney from criticism” while he was safeguarding Trump from impeachment.
“They deemed it incendiary or illegal to call Cheney and Kinzinger ‘Anti-Trump,’ a label both proudly advertise today,” he added.
The Florida Republican also suggested that the new recordings illustrate McCarthy’s and Scalise’s true thoughts.
“On the bright side, you no longer have to be a lobbyist with a $5,000 check to know what McCarthy and Scalise really think. You just have to listen to their own words as they disparage Trump and the Republicans in Congress who fight for him,” he said.
The Hill reached out to McCarthy and Scalise for comment.
The audio recordings reported by the Times were obtained for the upcoming book “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future,” written by Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, both of whom are reporters at the newspaper.
Tuesday’s report was the second article that featured private comments from McCarthy in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot. In the first batch, McCarthy was heard saying he would recommend that Trump resign from office. He initially called the report “totally false and wrong,” but audio recordings later backed up the remarks.
Gaetz knocked McCarthy on Twitter following the first report, again accusing him of “defending” Cheney.