WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a whirlwind of emotions and reflections, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) addressed the press on Tuesday night, hours after being ousted from his position in an unprecedented move. The press conference offered a glimpse into McCarthy’s thoughts and plans following the dramatic turn of events.
McCarthy began by sharing anecdotes from his life, including his mother’s visits to Costco for gas and his encounters with fellow lawmakers, notably Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), whom he criticized for their roles in his removal from the speakership.
With a mix of seriousness and humor, McCarthy discussed the unique circumstances of his career and the historical significance of his removal. “I made history, didn’t I?” he rhetorically asked.
Taking questions from reporters for nearly 40 minutes, McCarthy’s comments spanned a wide range of topics, from a comparison between Vladimir Putin and Hitler to repeated mentions of a popular Italian restaurant in Washington while discussing House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry. McCarthy’s relaxed demeanor allowed him to engage in a more extensive Q&A session than usual.
Now free from the constraints of the speakership, McCarthy openly declared that he believes the House as an institution is broken, attributing blame to Democrats for their perceived political behavior. He also revealed that he had sought advice from former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on changing House rules to allow for the removal of the speaker, a detail not previously disclosed. However, Pelosi’s office did not confirm the accuracy of McCarthy’s claim.
McCarthy took the opportunity to criticize the eight Republican members responsible for his removal, expressing regret for having supported some of them during their election campaigns. He also hinted at his continued involvement in supporting candidates in future elections.
Regarding the rule change that allowed one person to trigger a motion to remove him, McCarthy admitted some regret and advised the next speaker to “change the rules.”
McCarthy did not shy away from personal comments about Rep. Matt Gaetz, whom he accused of prioritizing fundraising over legislative duties. He predicted that Gaetz would contribute significantly to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) financially.
While McCarthy expressed shock at Rep. Tim Burchett’s (R-Tenn.) vote against him, he also critiqued Burchett for mischaracterizing a conversation they had regarding the vote.
In the midst of the press conference, McCarthy defended his record and challenged reporters to name a promise he had not kept.
As for his political future, McCarthy remained non-committal about a successor but expressed his intent to discuss potential candidates. He also mentioned that he had not yet considered resigning from his congressional seat, a step taken by some previous Republican speakers.
The press conference concluded with McCarthy offering a final jab at the media, demonstrating his trademark sense of humor as he adjusted to his new role as a rank-and-file member of Congress.