“More importantly, I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel,” McCarthy said to cheers. “It will be hard not to hit her with it.”
A Washington Post reporter who was covering the dinner confirmed McCarthy’s remarks. Main Street Nashville reporter Vivian Jones also posted audio of McCarthy’s comment on Twitter.
“A threat of violence to someone who was a target of a #January6th assassination attempt from your fellow Trump supporters is irresponsible and disgusting,” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, tweeted Saturday.
“There’s nothing funny about hitting Speaker Pelosi or any woman. Leader McCarthy is a failed leader,” Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) tweeted, adding that “nothing will get in the way of his ambitions — including joking about hitting a woman to excite his small base.”
McCarthy’s office did not respond to a request for comment Sunday.
Tensions between McCarthy and Pelosi have been rising in recent weeks, especially after Pelosi blocked two of McCarthy’s picks — Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.) — from being appointed to the bipartisan committee to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection. McCarthy called Pelosi’s decision “unprecedented,” deemed her a “lame-duck speaker” and pulled all five of his choices for the committee. The pushback led Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who ultimately was chosen to serve on the bipartisan committee, to accuse McCarthy of attempting to block the investigation.
Last week, Pelosi reportedly called McCarthy “a moron” when told he thought the Capitol’s reinstated mask mandate was not based on science. (Hammill later said the audio of Pelosi supposedly calling McCarthy a moron was not of high enough quality to be verified but did “confirm that the speaker believes that saying a mask requirement is ‘not a decision based on science’ is moronic.”)
Michael Scherer contributed to this report.