Washington — Rep. Tim Burchett accused former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of elbowing him in the back in retaliation for voting to oust him from the role last month.
“Kevin McCarthy walked by and he elbowed me in the kidneys as he walked by,” Burchett told reporters Tuesday. “Kind of caught me off guard.”
The Tennessee Republican connected the alleged incident to his vote to remove McCarthy from the speakership last month after McCarthy depended on Democratic votes to avoid a government shutdown.
“Four hundred thirty-five of us. Eight of us voted against it,” he said when asked whether the alleged elbowing could have been an accident. “And the chances of him walking beside me and giving me an elbow in the back? Come on.”
An NPR reporter was interviewing Burchett at the Capitol after the GOP’s conference meeting when the alleged incident occurred. The reporter, Claudia Grisales, said McCarthy shoved Burchett as he passed them in a hallway.
“I thought it was a joke, it was not. And a chase ensued,” Grisales wrote.
Grisales said Burchett yelled, “Why’d you elbow me in the back, Kevin? Hey Kevin, you got any guts?”
Burchett said he chased after McCarthy because he “didn’t know what was going on.”
“I see him scurrying away, and so I just followed in pursuit,” he said, adding that he thought the action was “100% on purpose.”
When he confronted McCarthy, Burchett said the California Republican acted like he didn’t know what he was talking about.
According to Grisales, Burchett told McCarthy, “You got no guts. … What kind of chicken move is that? You’re pathetic man, you are so pathetic.”
“He’s just not telling the truth,” Burchett told reporters, calling him a “bully.” “It’s unfortunate it’s going be a sad asterisk beside his career.”
He said he didn’t plan to take any action against McCarthy and didn’t expect leadership to do anything about it.
CBS News has reached out to McCarthy’s office for comment.
Ellis Kim contributed reporting.