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Newt Gingrich demands GOP "traitors" be primaried for ousting McCarthy

Newt Gingrich has slammed the eight Republicans who voted to oust Kevin McCarthy from the post of House Speaker as “traitors.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida orchestrated the effort by filing a “motion to vacate,” sparked by McCarthy’s recent decision to work with Democrats to avoid a federal government shutdown.

The resolution passed on Tuesday with the support of eight Republicans—many of them the same hard-right lawmakers who had tried to stop McCarthy becoming Speaker in January—and all the Democrats present and voting.

The vote made McCarthy the first Speaker of the House in U.S. history to be voted out of the position by his colleagues.

The Republicans who voted to remove McCarthy were Gaetz, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Tim Burchett of Tennessee, Eli Crane of Arizona, Bob Good of Virginia, Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Matt Rosendale of Montana.

“They are traitors,” Gingrich, a former House Speaker, said during an appearance on Fox News.

“All eight of them should in fact be primaried. They should all be driven out of public life. What they did was to go to the other team to cause total chaos.”

Gingrich noted that 96 percent of the Republican conference had voted for McCarthy in January.

“We ought to be focusing on Biden, we ought to be focusing on the economy, we ought to be focusing on the border,” he said.

“Instead, you’re going to get a week or 10 days of the media focusing on Republican disarray. It’s an astonishingly destructive behavior by a handful of egocentric people who think they’re superior to 96 percent of the conference.”

In a statement provided to Newsweek, Gingrich added that the eight Republicans “are traitors in a political sense.”

He said: “Imagine [the University of Georgia] is playing Alabama in football and four of the UGA defensive linemen turn around and tackle their own quarterback. What would you call that? Gaetz and his accomplices have betrayed their colleagues by plunging the House into chaos. They have been totally destructive to the conservative efforts to check this administration and do good things for the American people.”

The eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy have been contacted for comment via email.

Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a McCarthy ally, was named speaker pro tempore and will serve until a successor is chosen.

McCarthy told lawmakers he would not run again.

The Republicans who voted against him are “not conservatives and they do not have the right to have the title,” McCarthy told reporters.

He reserved harsh words for Gaetz. “You all know Matt Gaetz,” he added. “You know it was personal…everything he accused somebody of, he was doing. That all was about getting attention from [the press]. I mean, we’re getting email fundraisers from him as he’s doing it. ‘Join in quickly.’ That’s not governing, that’s not becoming of a member of Congress.”

House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries called McCarthy’s removal “a solemn moment for the country and for the House of Representatives.”

House Democrats “will continue to put people over politics and work together in a bipartisan way to make life better for everyday Americans,” he said in a statement.

“It is our hope that traditional Republicans will walk away from MAGA extremism and join us in partnership for the good of the country.”

President Joe Biden hopes the House will quickly elect McCarthy’s successor, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

“Once the House has met their responsibility to elect a Speaker, he looks forward to working together with them and with the Senate to address the American people’s priorities,” she said.

Update 10/04/23, 9:55 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional comments from Newt Gingrich.

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