Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week was pressed by a reporter about the recent heated exchanges on Capitol Hill.
On November 14, Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) nearly came to blows with Teamster’s President Sean O’Brien during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, accepting O’Brien’s previous challenge of a fight and telling the labor leader to “stand your butt up.”
The fight was averted after Chairman Bernie Sanders intervened and pleaded for calm.
That same day, Kentucky Republican Rep. Tim Burchett accused former Speaker Kevin McCarthy of elbowing him in the hallway while he was speaking to a reporter from NPR.
Burchett later told ABC News that McCarthy had been “bullying” him and accused the former speaker of deliberately elbowing him in the kidneys in what he described as a “cheap shot.”
NPR reporter Claudia Grisales later published audio of the incident in which Burchett could be heard accusing McCarthy of elbowing him in the back and shouting at the former speaker, “Hey Kevin, you got any guts?”
Burchett, who was one of the 8 Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy as speaker, chased after McCarthy and accused him of a “chicken move” and called him “pathetic.”
McCarthy denied that he deliberately hit Burchett, later telling ABC News that he must have inadvertently bumped shoulders with his Republican colleague in the hall. He added that if he meant to hit someone, “they would know I hit them.”
Later that day, Minority Leader McConnell appeared to be unaware of the two dust-ups when asked about the incidents.
During a press conference on Capitol Hill, a reporter asked McConnell what responsibility he had in “lowering the temperature.” The reporter cited the incident between Mullin and O’Brien and falsely claimed that former Speaker McCarthy “cold-cocked” Rep. Burchett.
McConnell chuckled and said he hadn’t heard about the two incidents but added that it would be “very difficult” for anyone to “control the behavior of everybody who’s in the building.”
McConnell told the reporter that he didn’t view it as his responsibility and suggested that it would be up to the Capitol Police to deal with such incidents.