Republican chaos unfolds on live TV as McCarthy is finally elected Speaker

US Correspondent Robert Moore recaps an evening of chaos

This was astonishing political drama, all captured on camera and broadcast across the nation in prime time. It was both deeply humiliating for the US Congress and completely compelling TV. At the end of a long night, Congressman Kevin McCarthy won his brutal, extended battle to become Speaker of the House of Representatives. He secured his narrow victory on the 15th ballot. But that barely captures the bitterness within the Republican Party in the final hour of proceedings overnight.

At one point, Congressman Mike Rogers appeared to lunge at an ultra-conservative member, Matt Gaetz, who was refusing to support McCarthy. Someone had to intervene and physically restrain Rodgers before violence broke out.

Rep. Richard Hudson, left, pulls Rep. Mike Rogers back as they talk with Rep. Matt Gaetz and others during the 14th round of voting. Credit: AP

Then the ghost of these proceedings made a bizarre appearance. A photographer captured a right-wing radical, Marjorie Taylor Greene, trying to pass a mobile phone to another maverick Republican.

Who was on the phone call? The initials on the mobile’s screen told the story - “DT.”

The former president was pulling the strings.

So the dysfunction and the paralysis of Congress has been on display for the world to see. Now we have the weakest, most wounded Speaker in living memory. Second-in-line to the presidency, McCarthy is a hostage to his right-wing flank. The radicals have extracted so many concessions from McCarthy that the House of Representatives - the body that passes budgets, forges legislation, declares war, and provides oversight - is being shaped by a group of election-denying right-wing conspiracy theorists. The fact that this all occurred on the second anniversary of the insurrection - an attempted coup that was implicitly supported by the same far-right members - is the final bitter irony. The chaos we have seen overnight in Congress isn’t over. It’s only just begun.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know