Matt Gaetz targeted by GOP colleagues after move against McCarthy

Republicans spent the week plotting potential retribution and attempting to further tarnish the reputation of Rep. Matt Gaetz after his successful rebellion against House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Though the majority of the GOP backed McCarthy, Gaetz’s motion to vacate was successful in two votes Tuesday, angering Republicans in the House and elsewhere. Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican who represents the swing district around Omaha, fumed to reporters after the vote that “I’d love to have [Gaetz] out of the [House Republican Conference],” adding, “He shouldn’t be in the GOP.”

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who became the first Republican in four decades to hold the position when chosen in 1995, also called on Gaetz to be expelled, writing in the Washington Post that “he is destroying the House GOP’s ability to govern” and reluctantly agreeing with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Gaetz “is simply violating the rules in the pursuit of personal attention and fundraising.”

Read more from Yahoo News: How the House chaos affects you

Some legislators suggested that Gaetz and the seven Republicans who voted along with him to oust McCarthy should all be kicked out of the caucus.

“I don’t see how they can really be part of a conference when they come on the inside, listen to what is going on, and then going outside and lob bombs into the middle,” Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio, chairman of the Republican Governance Group, told CNN. “It’s a waste of time having conversations with these people.”

If Republicans wanted to expel Gaetz from the conference, they could hold a GOP-only vote that excluded Democrats and would require two-thirds of their membership in order to pass. There is also the more extreme option to boot Gaetz from Congress entirely, which would require a two-third vote from the entire chamber.

Salacious accusations

Sen. Markwayne Mullin

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag)

Even if the Republicans don’t go as far as formally holding a vote against their colleague, it hasn’t stopped them from unloading on him. During a Wednesday interview with CNN, Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma said that when he was a congressman “we had all seen the videos he was showing on the House floor … of the girls that he had slept with,” adding that Gaetz “would brag about how he would crush E.D. medicine and chase it with energy drinks so he could go all night. This was obviously before he got married.”

Mullin mentioned a Justice Department investigation into Gaetz over his alleged relationship with an underage girl. In February, the DOJ said it would not be filing charges. McCarthy said an ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation into Gaetz was one of the reasons his speakership was targeted.

“I don’t think Markwayne Mullin and I have said 20 words to each other on the House floor,” Gaetz said in a statement to CNN. “This is a lie from someone who doesn’t know me and who is coping with the death of the political career of his friend Kevin. Thoughts and prayers.”

Marc Short, who served as chief of staff under Vice President Mike Pence, told CNN, “To say [Gaetz] came as a fiscal crusader, it’s more likely he came here for the teenage interns on Capitol Hill, to be honest.”

Gaetz is not without allies within his party. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the conspiracy theorist from Georgia who had aligned herself closely with McCarthy, said a “Republican led effort to expel Matt Gaetz absolutely will not be tolerated by Republicans across the country. I can guarantee you that.” The warning from Greene came after she voted twice to keep McCarthy in his position as speaker.

The son of the former president of the Florida state Senate, Gaetz was first elected to the U.S. House in 2016 after three terms in the state Legislature. Representing the conservative First District that covers much of the Panhandle, Gaetz has won every general election by at least 30 points but could be challenged by a Republican in a primary.

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