Scalise, Gaetz meet privately after fallout from leaked call
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) met privately on Wednesday amid the fallout from a leaked recording in which Scalise raised concerns about some of Gaetz’s remarks in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Their private discussion, which was first reported in Politico and confirmed to The Hill by both Scalise’s office and Gaetz, came after the Florida Republican confronted Scalise in a morning GOP conference meeting earlier Wednesday.
“I’m still reflecting on the convo,” Gaetz said of his meeting with Scalise. He later told reporters that he will address the meeting on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show.
Scalise said in a press conference Tuesday evening that he was sensitive to death threats that members were getting in the aftermath of the Capitol attack. Scalise was shot in the hip and seriously wounded in the 2017 congressional baseball shooting.
“Those did not come to fruition, because there were no charges that were brought. But what we were being told were some pretty alarming things, some from law enforcement, some from members,” Scalise said.
“And so I shared that with Matt. I’m sorry that those comments caused him problems,” Scalise said.
The New York Times on Tuesday released audio from a Jan. 10, 2021, call with GOP leaders expressing concerns about rank-and-file members’ statements in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
In the call, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) brought up Gaetz calling people “anti-Trump in this type of atmosphere.”
An aide on the call said that Gaetz had specifically brought up Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who was then the chairwoman of the GOP conference. They did not quote Gaetz.
“It’s potentially illegal what he’s doing,” Scalise said.
“He’s putting people in jeopardy,” McCarthy added. “And 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.”
Gaetz confronted Scalise about the comment in a GOP conference meeting Wednesday morning, demanding answers about his reasoning. He left the meeting unsatisfied.
On Tuesday night, Gaetz lashed out at McCarthy and Scalise in a statement, bashing “sniveling calls with Liz Cheney” and charging that “they disparage Trump and the Republicans in Congress who fight for him.”
“This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders,” Gaetz said in the statement. “They deemed it incendiary or illegal to call Cheney and [Rep. Adam] Kinzinger ‘Anti-Trump,’ a label both proudly advertise today.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) also spoke in the conference meeting and told The Hill that she wants both Scalise and McCarthy to apologize to Gaetz.
“We all need to be accountable for our words. I’ve had to do that before. And that we need to apologize when we say something wrong,” Greene said.
House Republicans as a whole, though, are largely not expressing discontent with McCarthy and GOP leadership as a trickle of leaked recordings reveals more of their remarks. McCarthy got a standing ovation in the Tuesday morning conference meeting after he addressed the tapes.
Mychael Schnell contributed.
This story was updated at 7:04 p.m.
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