As Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) comes under increasing scrutiny over allegations of sex trafficking violations, it appears that it is not just the Republican establishment that is keeping its distance from the embattled lawmaker. It appears that high-profile individuals in former President Donald Trump’s orbit are also hesitant to come to Gaetz’s defense.
In the days since news broke that the Department of Justice was looking into whether Gaetz had violated sex trafficking laws — an allegation he denies — no Trump aide or family member has tweeted about the Florida congressman. Nor have almost any of the most prominent Trump surrogates or Trump-allied conservatives and media personalities, including Sean Hannity, Dan Bongino, Charlie Kirk or American Conservative Union Chair Matt Schlapp, at whose annual CPAC conference Gaetz had recently appeared.
The former president is reportedly keeping up with the story, but is remaining quiet about the matter at the advice of his aides. People familiar with the issue stated that Trump and Gaetz have not spoken regularly recently.
According to the report, people within Trump’s circle indicated that there are several reasons why they have remained silent on this controversy. “The congressman had a reputation for a wild personal lifestyle that, associates say, occasionally bordered on reckless. Some of Gaetz’s own aides would regularly send embarrassing videos of their boss to other GOP operatives, according to two people familiar with the videos,” Politico noted.
A former Trump campaign aide said: “Anyone that has ever spent 10 minutes with the guy would realize he’s an unserious person.”
Gaetz has denied allegations that he was involved in sex trafficking a minor female. The lawmaker has accused a former member of the Justice Department of attempting to extort him over this issue. Despite the activist media’s attempts to downplay Gaetz’s claims, his father came forward and stated he had been working with the FBI to investigate the matter. (See: The Washington Post Admits Matt Gaetz Is Telling the Truth, and Their Spin Is Just Incredible)
“The reason you haven’t seen people in MAGA world defending Gaetz is less about him being unpopular, which he is in a lot of circles, and more about the fact that he hasn’t done a single thing to make people comfortable to defend him. His interview with Tucker was an absolutely embarrassing train wreck,” said a Trump confidant.
This individual was referencing an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson in which Gaetz insisted the charges against him were false. During the conversation, the lawmaker seemed to be trying to rope Carlson in on the issue. The Fox host indicated afterward that it “was one of the weirdest interviews I have ever conducted.”
Gaetz has friendly relationships with some of Trump’s strongest allies. However, as Politico noted:
But the congressman does not enjoy particularly strong relationships among the core Trump crew. Some Trump confidants regarded him as a leaker during Trump’s presidency who was as eager to use his association with the 45th president to lift his own career as he was to help Trump’s.
However, none of these individuals have tried to defend the congressman. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the accusations “serious” and indicated that he believes the lawmaker should be stripped of his committee assignments if proved true.
Rep. Gaetz’s sexual past has become a source of discussion amid the allegations, especially when it concerns his conduct when serving in Florida’s legislature. But reports of inappropriate behavior while serving in Congress have also been coming to light.
According to Fox News:
In Congress, Gaetz would brag about his sexual escapades to his colleagues on the House floor and allegedly showed fellow lawmakers nude photos and videos of women he had slept with, CNN reported Thursday. One video Gaetz revealed to colleagues allegedly showed a naked woman with a hula hoop.
In Tallahassee, where Gaetz served as a state representative, some women called him “Creepy Gaetz” because they were uncomfortable with his behavior. ABC News reported:
Sources said Gaetz was part of a group of young male lawmakers who created a “game” to score their female sexual conquests, which granted “points” for various targets such as interns, staffers or other female colleagues in the state House. One of the targets of the scoring system was a group the lawmakers had heard were “virgins,” according to a source.
The New York Times originally reported that federal investigators are looking into suspicions that Gaetz and another Republican official paid or offered gifts to underage girls in exchange for sex. The documents that were presented to the lawmaker from the person he is accusing of extortion indicated that the FBI learned of images of Gaetz participating in a “sexual orgy with underage prostitutes” and that at least one of the minor females gave testimony to a Florida grand jury. The lawmaker provided these documents to the Washington Examiner while maintaining his innocence.
As more details emerge, this story becomes more strange. It is difficult to ascertain what might be true and what could be deceptive accusations. But one thing is clear, it is not looking good for Gaetz, who has also been accused of sharing nude photos of women with his colleagues in Congress.
He has previously indicated that he does not plan to seek another term, but it is not clear whether this is because of the allegations or something different. Either way, the FBI is expected to make an announcement soon regarding whether or not they will indict the congressman.