McCarthy holds courtesy meeting with ex-Rep. Grimm

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel I'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' MORE (Calif.) huddled Wednesday with former Rep. Michael Grimm (R), the former New York lawmaker and felon eyeing a comeback in 2020.

“Grimm requested the meeting ahead of a run as a courtesy. As a general practice, McCarthy reciprocates meeting requests with candidates,” said McCarthy spokesman Matt Sparks.

Asked before the meeting whether Grimm had asked for McCarthy’s support, McCarthy replied: “I don’t know. I gotta meet with him.”

Grimm, who served less than a year in prison for tax evasion, earlier told reporters that he is very close to announcing a bid for his old seat, now occupied by Democratic freshman Rep. Max RoseMax RoseAssault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress The 11 House Dems from Trump districts who support assault weapons ban Pelosi backers feel vindicated after tumultuous stretch MORE (D-N.Y.).

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In a tweet with a photo of the Capitol, Grimm hinted at his likely run and put Rose on notice. 

"As majestic as ever! Great seeing some old friends. Don’t get too comfortable, @MaxRose4NY!," he wrote.

While McCarthy hasn’t formally endorsed a candidate in the GOP primary for Rose’s seat, McCarthy’s leadership PAC has already contributed to state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, a Staten Island Republican who was the 2017 GOP nominee for New York City mayor.

Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerDemocrat running for Will Hurd's seat raises over million in first 100 days of campaign The House Republicans and Democrats not seeking reelection in 2020 Cook Political Report moves TX-23 from Toss Up to Lean Democratic after Hurd retirement MORE (R-Minn.), the head of the House GOP’s campaign arm, said he did not have a meeting with Grimm on his schedule but is staying out of the primary for New York’s 11th District, which includes all of Staten Island and part of South Brooklyn.

Emmer had no comment about Grimm’s potential entry into the race.

“We have a couple of great candidates there. We don’t get involved in primaries. We’re not involved,” Emmer, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), told The Hill.

Grimm resigned from office in January 2015, shortly after he pleaded guilty to a single count of felony tax fraud related to the health food restaurant he owned at the time. He also made waves for threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony in the Capitol because of coverage he perceived as unfavorable.

He tried to make a comeback in 2018, but voters sided with the President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE-endorsed Rep. Dan Donovan in the Republican primary. Rose, a Democrat and Afghanistan war veteran, upset Donovan in the general election last fall, a victory which helped propel Democrats into the majority. Rose was born and raised in Brooklyn but says he now lives in Staten Island.  

Grimm was spotted on the House floor schmoozing with his former colleagues, including Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsNate McMurray launches second challenge against GOP Rep. Chris Collins Michael Caputo eyes congressional bid House ethics panel renews probes into three GOP lawmakers MORE (R-N.Y.), who himself is facing federal insider trading charges.

Several Republicans said they saw Grimm during Wednesday’s vote series but they did not speak with him. Rep. Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingFirst House Republican backs bill banning assault weapons The 9 House Republicans who support background checks Progressive gun control activist on NRA: 'Don't count them out' MORE, a fellow New York Republican, recognized Grimm, who lives in Staten Island.

When King was asked what Grimm was doing back in the House, King replied: “None of us ever know what he’s doing.”

Had Grimm asked for King’s support as a member of the New York delegation, a reporter asked.

King suggested Grimm would not ask that of him. “We know him too well,” King said.

Collins said he had spoken to Grimm Wednesday and called him a “good friend.”

“We want to get that seat back. He’s very well respected,” Collins said. “At this point, if he’s doing his due diligence, before he would jump in, he would make sure the support was there.”

Collins, who won reelection last year despite being charged by the Justice Department with insider trading, predicted that Grimm could win his old seat back, despite Grimm’s criminal conviction. A third Republican, Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterDuncan Hunter's attorneys look to delay trial by over a month Duncan Hunter gets another GOP challenger Overnight Defense: House votes to block Trump arms sales to Saudis, setting up likely veto | US officially kicks Turkey out of F-35 program | Pentagon sending 2,100 more troops to border MORE of California, was indicted last year for misusing campaign funds.

Grimm “was reelected [in 2014] after a lot of that,” Collins said. “All politics is local. Right now that should be a Staten Island resident [serving] there.”

Democrats jabbed at McCarthy for taking the meeting with Grimm.

“Best of luck to GOP Leader McCarthy as he works overtime to recruit the classiest of convicted felons to run with the NRCC’s backing in 2020,” said Cole Leiter, a spokesman for the Democrats’ campaign operation.

Juliegrace Brufke contributed.