McCarthy holds courtesy meeting with ex-Rep. Grimm

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? McCarthy to offer bill withholding funds from states that don't protect statues McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue 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 RoseAlarm grows over Americans stranded in Yemen amid pandemic Moderate House Democrats introduce bill aimed at stopping China from exploiting coronavirus pandemic Republican Nicole Malliotakis wins New York primary to challenge Max Rose MORE (D-N.Y.).

ADVERTISEMENT

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 EmmerHouse Republicans voice optimism on winning back the House following special election victories GOP pulls support from California House candidate over 'unacceptable' social media posts Trump campaign launches new fundraising program with House Republicans 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 TrumpNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Tucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' Trump on Confederate flag: 'It's freedom of speech' 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 CollinsNY Republican Chris Jacobs wins special election to replace Chris Collins 5 things to watch in Tuesday's primaries Trump drags mild-mannered regulator into political firefight 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) KingCheney clashes with Trump Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney On The Money: 3 million more Americans file for unemployment benefits | Sanders calls for Senate to 'improve' House Democrats' coronavirus bill | Less than 40 percent of small businesses have received emergency coronavirus loans 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 HunterLobbying world Duncan Hunter granted delayed start to prison sentence over coronavirus New poll shows tight race in key California House race 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.