The Day by day Beast
Picture Illustration by The Day by day Beast/GettyAfter Rep. Matt Gaetz accused a Florida lawyer of a $25 million extortion scheme to make intercourse trafficking allegations disappear, Republicans on and off Capitol Hill on Wednesday largely saved their mouths shut.Gaetz—the Trump-loving, Fox Information-grinning, 38-year-old Florida Republican—has a less-than-sterling fame amongst his congressional colleagues. Greater than a half-dozen lawmakers have spoken to those reporters about his love of alcohol and unlawful medicine, in addition to his proclivity for young women. It’s well-known amongst Republican lawmakers that Gaetz was relationship a school pupil—one over the age of consent—in 2018. She got here to Washington as an intern. In response to those allegations and a query about whether or not he had ever had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old whereas in Congress, Gaetz advised The Day by day Beast late Wednesday evening:“The final time I had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old, I used to be 17. As for the Hill, I do know I’ve many enemies and few mates. My assist typically lies exterior of Washington, D.C., and I wouldn’t have it another manner.”As for his few mates in Washington, The Day by day Beast discovered that to be true. One former GOP staffer stated Wednesday that their workplace had an off-the-cuff rule to not enable their member to seem subsequent to Gaetz throughout TV hits, afraid of the inevitable scandal that might come out at some point.On Tuesday, it’d lastly have dropped.In accordance with The New York Instances, Gaetz is beneath investigation by the Justice Division for probably having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old lady. Whereas Gaetz has denied the existence of a 17-year-old lover, he’s been much less offended in regards to the suggestion that he’s dated girls a lot youthful than him whereas in Congress. And he’s brazenly admitted that he’s paid for flights and lodges for ladies to go to him.“I’ve been, you understand, beneficiant as a associate,” Gaetz stated Tuesday.Now, Gaetz could also be discovering generosity briefly provide amongst his colleagues. Solely two Home Republicans jumped to his protection on Wednesday: Judiciary Committee rating Republican Jim Jordan (R-OH), who himself has been accused of turning a blind eye to sexual assault; and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has repeatedly boosted the QAnon conspiracy concept accusing Democrats of abusing youngsters.Whereas Greene in contrast the Gaetz allegations to a “witch hunt” and the “conspiracy theories and lies like Trump/Russia collusion,” Jordan was extra muted. “I imagine Matt Gaetz,” he stated in a press release to CNN.GOP aides famous to The Day by day Beast that Jordan has been one in every of Gaetz’s closest allies in Congress—and essentially the most he would supply was that tepid assertion and his assist for Gaetz staying on the Judiciary Committee.Extra importantly, Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wasn’t precisely leaping to Gaetz’s nook.McCarthy stated on Fox Information that he needed to attend for the information earlier than meting out any punishment, like eradicating Gaetz from committees, however the GOP chief additionally provided that, “If it comes out to be true, sure, we might take away him.”“These are critical implications,” McCarthy stated.It was not shocking to some observers that the wagons didn’t circle round Gaetz within the explosive 24 hours after the scandal, even because the congressman produced paperwork that lent some weight to his extortion claims. “I don’t suppose lots of people are going to exit of their strategy to defend him, particularly with this outlandish-sounding protection,” one GOP staffer stated. “I don’t suppose you’ll discover lots of people who’re determined to maintain him concerned in Republican politics.”The cartoonishly scandalous notion of Gaetz is so commonplace that typically it’s seen, actually, within the halls of Congress. A Hill supply despatched The Day by day Beast a photograph of a trash bin exterior Gaetz’s workplace as lawmakers cleared out their places of work on the finish of a latest session. On the high of the heap was an empty Costco-size field of “Bareskin” Trojan condoms.Whereas he’s brazenly courted numerous girls in Washington, Gaetz has not precisely made it a precedence to court docket fellow lawmakers since arriving in Congress in 2017. He even wears his reluctance to win mates and affect GOP lawmakers as a badge of honor.“I don’t actually socialize with my colleagues,” Gaetz stated in a 2019 profile in BuzzFeed Information.One particular person he does actively socialize with is the forty fifth president. He proved fast to defend Donald Trump at almost each alternative, sure, however even faster to criticize his GOP colleagues for inadequate Trump assist. On the identical time, he’s additionally run afoul of Trump: he was reportedly “iced out” of the White Home in 2020 when he backed a decision curbing the president’s skill to wage struggle with Iran, after Democrats stated they’d give Gaetz a vote on one in every of his amendments if he would assist the general struggle powers invoice.The rift was short-lived, nevertheless, as Trump regarded for Capitol Hill allies throughout the early days of the COVID disaster and Gaetz was more than pleased to defend the president.His need to be on TV most days of the week has proven lawmakers what Matt Gaetz’s major aim is in Congress: the promotion of Matt Gaetz. He hardly ever companions with colleagues on payments and has but to see any laws he authored change into regulation. Fixed rumors about his ambition to hunt larger workplace in Florida—and even Alabama—underscored the notion he didn’t prioritize the job.4 years into his Home profession, Gaetz’s theatrics have delay Democrats and Republicans alike. His go to to Wyoming in February to host a rally condemning Home GOP Convention Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) for her vote to question Trump rubbed many the fallacious manner, even when they opposed Cheney’s vote.“Even the Republican Occasion doesn’t like him very a lot,” stated a Republican operative accustomed to the Florida congressional delegation.Nonetheless, Gaetz does have allies—they’re simply much less enthusiastic about defending him for the time being than they’re in attacking the media.Reached by cellphone on Wednesday, Mike Huckabee, the previous Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate, stated he thinks the New York Instances is a “joke” and has no confidence of their reporting. Huckabee was an early backer of Gaetz’s—he hosted a fundraiser for the congressman in 2018 at his seashore house not removed from the congressman’s hometown—and is reportedly shut along with his household.“He stated it didn’t occur,” Huckabee advised The Day by day Beast. “Till confirmed in any other case, I believe he deserves the identical consideration of the presumption of innocence and due course of as anyone else.”Again house in Gaetz’s deep crimson Florida district, the story can also be touchdown with a skeptical viewers. John Roberts, the chair of the Escambia County Republican Occasion, stated he doubted any reporting from the Instances and different mainstream media after the Trump period. “Republicans aren’t right here saying, ‘Oh pricey what’s occurring,’” Roberts advised The Day by day Beast. “Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, one other smear job.’”However even Roberts—who leads the GOP group within the largest county within the district the place Gaetz and his father, former state Sen. Don Gaetz, have been fixtures for many years—claimed he didn’t personally know the congressman, saying he has talked with him “just a few instances briefly.”“We’ve been very supportive of him politically. I’m simply very skeptical of this entire factor,” Roberts stated.Probably the most deafening silence, although, is that of one other Florida resident: the previous president.Gaetz is probably Trump’s largest defender in Congress. In February, Gaetz provided to resign his workplace if it meant he acquired the chance to defend the ex-president at his impeachment trial. And a narrative the place the New York Instances assaults a GOP politician—when that politician is definitely the sufferer—nearly appears made for Trump.However up to now, the ex-president has remained on the sidelines, ready to see what comes out subsequent. So has his son, Don Jr., who’s an influential Gaetz ally, too. He has tweeted quite a few instances since Tuesday night, however provided no protection of the congressman.As a lot as Trump would most likely prefer to slam the media for allegedly inaccurate and irresponsible reporting, it seems he’s unwilling to connect his title to Gaetz proper now the best way that Gaetz has hooked up his title to Trump’s.Learn extra at The Day by day Beast.Acquired a tip? Ship it to The Day by day Beast hereGet our high tales in your inbox each day. 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