McCarthy Asked to Recant Pelosi Taunt 08/03 06:13
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Several House Democrats have called on House Republican
Leader Kevin McCarthy to apologize to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or resign
after audio surfaced of him saying at a weekend fundraiser that it would be
"hard not to hit her" with a gavel if he's sworn in as speaker after the 2022
The comment is emblematic of the rising tension between the two leaders
since the Jan. 6 insurrection, in which a violent mob of former President
Donald Trump's supporters broke into the Capitol and some hunted for Pelosi by
name. After initially condemning the rioters and blaming Trump for inciting
them, McCarthy and his leadership team have recently tried to lay blame on
Pelosi, falsely claiming that she was responsible for a delay in military
assistance. And McCarthy has remained close to Trump, who often insulted his
political rivals in personal terms.
Democrats responded quickly, noting the threats on Pelosi's life on Jan. 6,
when the insurrectionists broke into her office, stole some of her belongings
and called out for her.
"Threatening violence against the Speaker of the House is no joke," tweeted
New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. "This is the kind of reckless language that
led to a violent insurrection."
The public strain between the two -- extraordinary even by congressional
standards -- has moved beyond the insurrection into most every matter between
them as McCarthy is eyeing the speakership and an election map that could be
favorable to Republicans next year. McCarthy last week blamed Pelosi for a
renewed mask mandate in the House as "a decision conjured up by liberal
government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic
state." Pelosi shot back that he was a "moron."
On Saturday, McCarthy was attending a Tennessee Republican Party Fundraiser
when he was gifted an oversized gavel with the words "fire Pelosi" on it,
according to local publication Main Street Nashville, which also posted audio
of the comments. McCarthy responded by saying that he wanted the crowd to watch
Pelosi hand him the gavel if he wins the speakership, and "it'll be hard not to
hit her with it, but I will bang it down."
Asked about the comments, McCarthy's office said in a statement that "he was
But Democrats suggested the remarks were part of a broader problem. New
Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster noted that McCarthy had voted against the Violence
Against Women Act, legislation designed to protect women from domestic violence
that passed the House in March.
Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., tweeted: "There's nothing funny about hitting
Speaker Pelosi or any woman," adding that he "continues to reminds us that
nothing will get in the way of his ambitions -- including joking about hitting
a woman to excite his small base."
Democratic Reps. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts and Eric Swalwell of
California said McCarthy should step down. " I've said it before & I'll say it
again--he should RESIGN!!" tweeted McGovern.
While already disagreeing on most policy matters, McCarthy and Pelosi have
also clashed in recent weeks over the mask mandate, which some Republicans have
resisted and argued is not based on science. The requirement was re-instituted
in the House after a recommendation from the Capitol Physician.
Asked about her "moron" comment last week, Pelosi responded: "To say that
wearing a mask is not based on science, I think is not wise, but that's all I
am going to say about that."
McCarthy also withdrew five members from a select committee established last
month to investigate the insurrection after Pelosi rejected two of his members,
saying they couldn't sit on the panel because of their "antics" defending Trump
after the attack. McCarthy called the move an "egregious abuse of power" and
the committee a "sham."
Holding a news conference ahead of the committee's first hearing, in which
police officers spoke emotionally about their physical and mental pain after
the rioting, McCarthy and his leadership tried to shift blame from the Trump
supporters who laid siege to Pelosi herself. McCarthy said there were
"questions into the leadership within the structure of the Speaker's office"
about delays in the National Guard's arrival that day.
However, Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called for the
guard's help after the fighting began, and Pelosi's office has said she did not
weigh in on the guard's presence before that. The delays were instead due to
communications between security officials in the Capitol and the Pentagon and a
lack of preparedness ahead of the attack.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who was then majority leader, had
identical authority over the guard as Pelosi. But McCarthy has repeatedly
ignored all questions about his role.