Matt Gaetz called House GOP leaders ‘weak men’ after audio shows they privately warned he could incite more violence after Jan. 6

Matt Gaetz called House GOP leaders ‘weak men’ after audio shows they privately warned he could incite more violence after Jan. 6
Rep. Matt Gaetz listens as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks in Congress.Jim Lo Scalzo - Pool/Getty Images
  • Rep. Gaetz responded to the release of audio in which top GOP lawmakers expressed concern about his rhetoric after Jan 6.
  • He accused Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise of being "weak men."

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida slammed House Republican leaders who privately expressed concern after the Capitol riot that he could be seeking to whip up further violence.

The New York Times on Tuesday published audio of a January 10, 2021, call in which House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise discussed comments made by Gaetz after January 6 about Rep. Liz Cheney.

In the call, McCarthy expressed concern that Gaetz was "putting people in jeopardy," referencing TV appearances in which Gaetz had singled out Cheney for criticism in the wake of the riot. Cheney is an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump.

In response to the leaked audio, Gaetz wrote: "Rep McCarthy and Rep. Scalise held views about President Trump and me that they shared on sniveling calls with Liz Cheney, not us. This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders."

Cheney has become a hated figure for many Republican allies of Trump for holding the former president accountable for the violence on January 6. She is one of two Republicans serving on the House committee investigating the riot.


Days after the Capitol riot — and the recorded audio — Gaetz railed against Cheney in her home state of Wyoming after she voted to impeach Trump over the January 6 riot. Both McCarthy and Scalise voted against impeachment.

"He doesn't need to be doing this. We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know, and these people came prepared with rope, with everything else," McCarthy said on the call while discussing Gaetz, according to the audio.

McCarthy is facing criticism from Trump allies in his party after other audio recordings released by The Times last week showed him saying he would seek Trump's resignation in the wake of the riot, and held the president responsible for the attack.

The tapes present an account of McCarthy's views on January 6 that are at odds with those he has presented to the public.

As Trump's popularity has held firm among the GOP base, McCarthy has significantly softened his criticism, presenting himself as an ally of Trump and opposing the January 6 committee's attempts to uncover who was responsible for the riot.


He has also sought to make Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, another Republican on the House committee, pariahs.

But the hardline Trump allies have been quick to pounce on the tapes to attack him as insufficiently loyal to Trump.

"On the bright side, you no longer have to be a lobbyist with a $5,000 check to know what McCarthy and Scalise really think. You just have to listen to their own words as they disparage Trump and the Republicans in Congress who fight for him," tweeted Gaetz.