WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the leader of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, said he deleted a controversial tweet not because it was anti-Semitic but because of its coincidental timing with attempted violence.
Democrats and liberals have targeted McCarthy this week for the tweet he posted in October, before the midterms election, when he was majority leader, saying “we cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election!” George Soros, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer are all billionaires who give money to Democrats.
McCarthy has led calls for action against rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., for saying that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee buys the pro-Israel loyalty of lawmakers. Omar apologized, but McCarthy and others say she should face consequences.
McCarthy fended off comparisons to his earlier tweet, saying he was not targeting the faith of the billionaires, only that they were backing Democrats. “Michael Bloomberg put in $54 million into the campaign just in the last couple weeks in 24 districts,” McCarthy told Fox News this week. “All I was pointing out was money that Republicans and Democrats were spending to defeat one another.”
JTA asked McCarthy’s office why, then, did McCarthy delete the tweet; his spokeswoman, Erin Perrine, said it was because of attempted violence at the time. She did not specify the attempts, but a few days after the tweet, a pro-Trump Florida man mailed bombs to Soros and Steyer, among other notable liberals. Perrine pointed to a statement McCarthy issued at the time: “Understanding the particular sensitivity of the past 24 hours in the political climate today that has led to specific threats on both sides of the aisle, we will redouble our focus on our agenda of results.”