Kevin McCarthy takes parting swipe at Matt Gaetz in final interview as congressman: ‘History will judge him’

California Rep. Kevin McCarthy took one final swipe at Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz – the driving force behind his ousting as speaker – as his tenure in the People’s House comes to a tumultuous end.

“History will judge him,” McCarthy told FOX News’ Brian Kilmeade Saturday night. “And history will judge all of us.”

The California Republican sat down with “One Nation” for his final interview as a congressman, touching on the most pressing issues facing Congress and the country. Kilmeade asked about Gaetz criticizing his decision to leave Capitol Hill, saying it posed a “very real math problem” for Republicans who only have a slim majority in the lower chamber.

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Representative Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. (Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Gatez is never a serious person,” McCarthy responded. “I mean, when you think about what has transpired, and you talk about someone being selfish, this is all about an ethics complaint that he had a Congress before, that he looked at just himself, that he doesn’t want it to come forward for America to know.”

“But it’s going to come forward,” Kilmeade said.

“Yeah, it’s more serious than Santos…” McCarthy replied.

In October, Gaetz introduced a motion to vacate against McCarthy and subsequently led a group of eight Republicans to side with Democrats to oust him from the role, just months after the historic 15th ballot vote to appoint him.

“I think they’ll see I’m Irish and Italian. I like a good fight,” he said, referencing the time it took to land the speakership. “But then they took down Steve Scalise. They took down Jim Jordan. They took down Tom Emmer. I mean, these are the best players on the field.”

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Gaetz surrounded by media

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., talks to reporters just after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s last-ditch plan to keep the government temporarily open collapsed, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“But this is your party,” Kilmeade said.

“Yeah, but the challenge is, it was eight people and every single Democrat. Eight Republicans joined the Democrats to create this mess. That’s part of things that people have to look at to be able to change.”

McCarthy, speaking to reporters last Thursday, offered another parting shot at the Florida firebrand, branding him as “psychotic” and saying the FBI studies minds like his. He also recently told Politico that Gaetz “belongs in jail,” appearing to reference the ongoing probe of the Florida congressman by the House Ethics Committee into allegations of sexual misconduct and misuse of his funding.

Gaetz and his team have repeatedly denied such allegations. He also fired back at McCarthy, telling the outlet those were “tough words from a guy who sucker punches people in the back,” referencing allegations that McCarthy assaulted Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., by elbowing him in the kidneys.

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“The only assault I committed was against Kevin’s fragile ego,” Gaetz added.

McCarthy announced on Dec. 6 he planned to retire from his role in Congress, writing in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal, “No matter the odds, or personal cost, we did the right thing. That may seem out of fashion in Washington these days, but delivering results for the American people is still celebrated across the country. It is in this spirit that I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways. I know my work is only getting started.”

He then pledged to “recruit” America’s “best and brightest” to run for office.

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Fox News’ Brandon Gillespie, Houston Keene, Joe Schoffstall and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.

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