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Former California Rep. McCarthy says he lost speakership role for defending the law: political pressure

The former California Republican House Rep. and the 55th speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, pointed fingers at a fellow Republican from Florida for losing the speakership role in a recent interview. Now retired, McCarthy steered a razor-thin GOP majority for nearly a year before his ouster from the position. McCarthy will be remembered as the first speaker in history to be ousted from his post.

A highly divided party

The Republican Party in the House has been highly divided in the last few years. With more moderate House members on one side of the spectrum and those further to the right on the other, McCarthy managed to hold the speakership role for only 269 days. But McCarthy’s ousting didn’t really help the Republicans get along better, as now current Speaker Mike Johnson faces similar problems in the middle of the presidential campaign when everyone should be focused on the November election.

Greene files motion to oust Speaker Johnson

Georgia Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has recently filed a motion to oust the current GOP speaker, Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana. Greene’s motion is the most strident challenge to the Louisiana Republican Party’s leadership to date and is a sign of a growing revolt from the right. The effort is a significant escalation of the inter-party divisions that have grown increasingly contentious since Johnson took over the speaker’s gavel last year following the historic ousting of Kevin McCarthy.

McCarthy was allegedly forced “to do something illegal”

Few days ago, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy shared his side of the story on CBS News’ Face the Nation and explained what had happened before he was ousted. McCarthy directly accused Florida Representative Matt Gaetz of trying to get him “to do something illegal,” which he further believes led to the effort to remove him from his speaker role last year. Gaetz filed the motion after McCarthy helped Democratic lawmakers to pass a bill to get a temporary government funding.

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Personal matter

During his appearance, McCarthy was pressed on the potential similarities between this motion and the one from Gaetz that removed him from the office. The congressman argued that, based on his experiences with her, Greene’s disagreements might boil down to policy matters that can be discussed. The motion against him from Gaetz, however, he blamed on a personal matter and accused Gaetz of trying to get him to illegally shut down an ethics committee investigation.

McCarthy directly accused Florida Rep. Gaetz of trying to get him "to do something illegal," before he was ousted of the speakership role
Kevin McCarthy / Credit: Wikipedia

Gaetz’s commitment to oust McCarthy

During his appearance to CBS News’ Face the Nation, McCarthy said, “The one thing I’ve always found, when you sit down with a member and talk to them, find out what their concerns are, especially when it’s based upon policy, you can solve that problem. And I watched that with Marjorie, from the vote to speaker to the vote for the Fiscal Responsibility Act. There’s times she [had] a difference of opinion, and you sit down and find common ground.”

He continued: “Matt’s case was much different. It was about a personal thing that he had done, and that’s what he was trying to get something illegally stopped…I think the Ethics Committee, it was purely Matt coming to me, trying [to get] me to do something illegal to stop the Ethics Committee from moving forward [with] an investigation that was started long before I became speaker.”

The Ethics Committee investigation

The ethics matter McCarthy referred to pertains to an investigation into Gaetz dating back to 2021, which alleged that, according to The New York Times, “he engaged in sexual misconduct and illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use and accepted impermissible gifts under House rules, among other allegation.”

Read also: Conservative leaves the Republican Party due to hate crime attacks by other GOP supporters in Arizona

Separately, the Department of Justice (DOJ) had also probed into accusations that Gaetz was involved in human trafficking and sexual activities with an underage girl, but no final charges were held against him. Gaetz has insisted on his innocence throughout these situations, brushing off these allegations as a plot to tarnish his reputation. The investigation, which was momentarily halted due to the DOJ inquiry, is still ongoing today.

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