Democrat on Armed Services: No evidence Rogers was going to strike Gaetz

Rep. Michael D. Rogers (R-Ala.) is taken away from Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)

Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said Monday that he didn’t see any evidence that Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) intended to physically harm Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) during a tense moment on the House floor last week.

“First of all, if you actually look at the video, what Mike was doing is he was sort of getting into Matt Gaetz’s face and he was pointing a finger at him. There was no point in that where it appeared that he was going to physically strike Matt Gaetz, and the only physical confrontation came from the member who grabbed him by the face to pull him back,” Smith said of the exchange during the Speakership election. Smith made the remarks in an interview on CNN’s “The Lead” with Jake Tapper.

“So, you know, obviously Mike was pretty fired up and he was in his face, but I don’t think there was any evidence that he was going to physically strike Matt Gaetz. I mean, as we all know, it was a very difficult week,” Smith said.

Rogers said Sunday that he regrets losing his temper with Gaetz, who was among the GOP holdouts who cast ballots for other Speaker nominees in order to keep Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from getting the votes he needed to win the Speakership.

The incident between Rogers and Gaetz occurred just after McCarthy lost the 14th consecutive round of voting. The Speaker hopeful had flipped a number of the holdouts — but came in just one ballot short of the gavel, with Gaetz voting “present” rather than backing McCarthy.

Rogers approached Gaetz, and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) then came up behind Rogers and appeared to hold him back, putting a hand over the Alabama lawmaker’s mouth.

Smith on Monday said Gaetz and others engaged in “partisan theatrics” throughout the multiday voting process, which McCarthy narrowly won on the 15th ballot. Gaetz forgave Rogers over the weekend.

“These sorts of sort of partisan theatrics that Matt Gaetz and so many others engaged in day after day, ballot after ballot, definitely strained the nerves of those Republican members who are just sort of looking to get the work done and do our job, no doubt about that,” Smith said.

The Armed Services Committee’s ranking member said he didn’t think Rogers was “faultless” for his anger during the exchange with Gaetz, but pushed back against the “specific charge” that Rogers intended to physically attack Gaetz.

“I don’t think that was happening. I have no doubt that there were a lot of threats going around. But it didn’t look to me like Mike had any intention of physically contacting Matt Gaetz,” Smith said.

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