Gaetz Questions McCarthy’s Leadership Because He Hasn’t Punished Anti-Trump GOPers Enough

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) listens as House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during the restart of a House session of Congress on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress has r... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) listens as House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during the restart of a House session of Congress on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress has reconvened to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump, hours after a pro-Trump mob broke into the U.S. Capitol and disrupted proceedings. (Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo - Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 9, 2021 1:53 p.m.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is already sowing doubt about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) fitness for leadership as Republicans look ahead to next year’s midterms — and McCarthy’s likely bid for House speaker if the odds tilt in the GOP’s favor.

In an episode of his show “Firebrand With Matt Gaetz” that aired Thursday, the congressman complained about McCarthy’s statement in response to the Jan. 6 committee’s request that telecommunication companies preserve records of people it’s investigating as part of its insurrection probe. Last week, McCarthy suggested that company compliance would not only violate federal law, but that “a Republican majority will not forget.”

Gaetz argued that although McCarthy did “some huffing and puffing,” the House minority leader should’ve also gone after Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Liz Cheney (R-WY), who are the only Republican members of the Jan. 6 committee.

“How can we trust Kevin McCarthy to go beyond talking tough to Nancy Pelosi when he won’t even stand up to Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger?” Gaetz said.

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Gaetz continued ranting about Cheney and Kinzinger’s appointment by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to the committee — a move that happened after Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy’s picks for the panel, prompting the House minority leader to yank all of his selections in retaliation.

“They’ve crossed the rubicon, joined the other side. So how in the world do Cheney and Kinzinger justify a critique of Trump for destroying our institutions and violating norms when they’re participating in the Stalinist tactics of the tyrannical left?” Gaetz said. “These phone record demands? Ugh!”

Gaetz then urged McCarthy to boot the GOP lawmakers from their committees and he questioned the strength of McCarthy’s backbone.

“Anything less is weakness inviting attack,” Gaetz said. “And our leadership shouldn’t invite attack on our people.”

This is already a talking point for Republicans. Rep. Andy Biggs’ (R-AZ) demanded last week that the House minority leader boot Cheney and Kinzinger from the GOP conference. This came after it was revealed that Biggs’ records were part of the Jan. 6 committee’s request for the phone records of some key Republican lawmakers tied to the “Stop the Steal” rally and other Big Lie-adjacent activities.

Gaetz, a prominent Trump loyalist who egged on the former president’s election fraud falsehoods, is also among the GOP lawmakers that the panel is reportedly interested in.

In addition to Biggs and Gaetz, CNN reported that the committee sought the phone records of Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Jody Hice (R-GA) and Scott Perry (R-PA).

Several House Republicans have since tried to troll the committee for its document requests, with Biggs spearheading a letter issued Tuesday night that asked a handful of companies to preserve the communication and phone records of Democratic lawmakers for “future investigative use.”

Trump himself has continued warring against his critics, like Cheney, as he begins endorsing challengers against the handful of Republicans who voted for his impeachment over “incitement of insurrection” earlier this year. (It appears that Trump mistakenly claimed that Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) also endorses this Cheney challenger.)

Cheney, however, appears unfazed.

Watch Gaetz’s remarks below:

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