It appears that some Republican lawmakers aren’t exactly exerting themselves to support Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) after the news broke that he is under investigation for allegedly sex trafficking and having inappropriate relations with a 17-year-old girl. Their reticence to speak on Gaetz’s behalf could indicate they are simply being cautious and waiting until all of the facts come out. But it seems more likely that their silence on the matter is motivated by the lawmaker’s staunch support for former President Donald Trump and his efforts against the GOP establishment.
The Hill reported:
Few of Gaetz’s GOP colleagues are coming to the defense of the third-term Floridian following a New York Times report that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct with — and interstate trafficking of — a minor roughly two years ago. And a number of Republicans, while warning against jumping to premature conclusions about Gaetz’s conduct, also suggested they wouldn’t miss him if he were gone.
A GOP lawmaker who preferred to remain anonymous said: “I don’t know anything about this situation other than to say he has certainly made enemies and painted a bull’s-eye on his back.”
He added, “This appears to be a self-inflicted wound.”
Some of Gaetz’s colleagues indicated they were hesitant to publicly support him because they are not sure whether or not to believe his story. “My personal view is there are a lot of holes in his story and his denial wasn’t really a denial. ‘I never traveled with an underage woman’ isn’t exactly a denial of relations with an underage woman,” another GOP lawmaker said.
“That said, until charges are filed, I don’t think [punitive] action is warranted,” they continued. “As disgusting as the allegations are, [they’re] still just allegations, and we haven’t heard from the accuser. If charges are filed, immediately remove [him] from committees or whatever precedent says from the Chris Collins issue when he was charged. Basically, if this is true, Matt’s done, and we need to make that clear.”
Another Republican lawmaker stated that accusations are not surprising. “Everyone already knew Gaetz was a ticking time bomb and his days in the House were numbered, but this story is more bizarre than expected,” the lawmaker said.
Other Republicans in Congress criticized Gaetz’s appearance with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson in which he denied the allegations and explained that a member of the Justice Department was attempting to extort him.
“I can say that actually you and I went to dinner about two years ago, your wife was there, and I brought a friend of mine — you’ll remember her — and she was actually threatened by the FBI, told that if she wouldn’t cop to the fact that somehow I was involved in some pay-for-play scheme, that could face trouble,” Gaetz said. “So I do believe there are people at the Department of Justice that are trying to smear me. Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime.”
“His bizarre display on Tucker is an attempt to muddy the issues,” another lawmaker said.
Gaetz has been known for his vocal support of Trump and his theatrics in Congress and elsewhere. It is a quality that has annoyed some of his colleagues who are likely the establishment types. However, some on the right have made an interesting observation: The Trump camp has not spoken up about the story.
“I think it speaks volumes that ‘Trump World’ isn’t jumping to his defense. I can’t say concretely, but his interview with Tucker did him no favors,” a former Trump aide said.
“No one named Trump is out defending him — that’s a pretty big sign,” they added.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Wednesday chimed in on the matter, affirming that Gaetz has the right to defend himself. He stated the congressman should be allowed to keep his committee assignment until evidence surfaces proving his guilt.
“Those are serious implications. If it comes out to be true, yes, we would remove him if that’s the case,” he told Fox News. “But right now, Matt Gaetz says that it’s not true and we don’t have any information. So let’s get all the information.”
Since news of the investigation surfaced on Tuesday, other facts have emerged giving more details about the story. RedState’s Bonchie reported that on Wednesday, Gaetz’s father, a former Florida state senator, provided an email showing that he was working with the FBI on an investigation regarding the allegations that a member of the Justice Department was trying to extort Gaetz.
So far, we’ve seen no evidence proving that Gaetz is guilty of any inappropriate activity with a minor. But to make things even weirder, it appears there may be indications that the representative’s claims of extortion might be accurate. His father stated that two men approached him after learning about the federal investigation stating that if the elder Gaetz give money to fund an effort to locate Robert A. Levinson, an American who was held hostage In Iran, they would do something about the younger Gaetz’s legal problems.
But regardless of whether or not the suspicions are true, it appears Gaetz is on his own, at least for the time being.