Opinion: Matt Gaetz's diversionary tactics aren't working

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy mentioned he’d converse to Gaetz concerning the matter, although it isn’t clear that is occurred. The Republicans Gaetz has attacked are preserving their powder dry amid the continuing investigation. And even former President Donald Trump hasn’t defended certainly one of his staunchest allies within the House.

Trump introduced up the Gaetz state of affairs in a current dialog with an ally, speaking as if he was gently fishing about whether or not he ought to weigh in. The response was that he ought to keep as far-off from it as he might, in response to a supply conversant in the dialog.

The collective silence surrounding the Gaetz investigation is each an indication of the seriousness of the allegations beneath investigation and a reminder that a lot of the House GOP convention would not recognize the Florida Republican’s antics.

Investigators are analyzing whether or not Gaetz broke federal intercourse trafficking and prostitution legal guidelines, together with whether or not he had a relationship with a 17-year-old lady. No costs have been filed and Gaetz has denied the allegations. Gaetz has additionally confronted criticism following NCS’s report that he showed off nude photos and videos of women, together with whereas he was on the House flooring.

Gaetz’s help — or lack thereof — amongst his fellow Republicans might in the end not matter, as Gaetz has mentioned he isn’t resigning and denied any wrongdoing. On Tuesday, Gaetz even despatched a fundraising electronic mail to his supporters off of the reviews concerning the DOJ investigation, claiming within the electronic mail, “A brand-new smear campaign has been launched against me, but I am fighting back to expose the truth.”

Gaetz will make his first public look Friday since final week’s interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, when he’ll converse at a Women for America First occasion being held on the former President’s Trump National Doral Miami Golf Resort.

But with few buddies on Capitol Hill, Gaetz might face stress throughout the convention as soon as Congress returns from its recess subsequent week and Republicans will inevitably face questions from reporters concerning the matter.

Man tied to Matt Gaetz's extortion allegation says lawmaker is 'trying to direct attention from himself'Man tied to Matt Gaetz's extortion allegation says lawmaker is 'trying to direct attention from himself'

Republican House management has labored to remain out of the fray of the Gaetz controversy. While nobody is dashing to defend the Florida Republican they’re additionally not going out of their option to condemn him.

Last week, McCarthy known as the allegations in opposition to Gaetz severe and steered that if the accusations have been true, they’d take away him from the House Judiciary Committee.

“Those are serious implications, if it comes out to be true yes, we would remove him if that was the case,” McCarthy mentioned on Fox News final week. “But right now as Matt Gaetz says it’s not true, and we don’t have any information.”

McCarthy additionally mentioned that he deliberate to talk to Gaetz to listen to his aspect of the story. It’s not clear, nevertheless, whether or not that dialog has occurred. McCarthy’s workplace has but to say if that assembly has occurred.

A senior House GOP supply mentioned that Gaetz is unlikely to lose his Judiciary Committee spot until he is indicted. Conference guidelines require an indicted member to lose committee spots. But since Gaetz has denied the allegations and they’re primarily based on information reviews, it is uncertain that he can be eliminated from his assignments earlier than any formal costs are filed, the supply mentioned.

In addition to McCarthy, the workplaces of GOP Whip Steve Scalise and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney didn’t reply to requests for remark concerning Gaetz’s future in Congress.

Gaetz has attacked Cheney over her vote to question Trump in January, even traveling to her district to carry a rally condemning her impeachment vote.

The push to take away Cheney from workplace was an indication of why Gaetz was polarizing amongst Republicans in Congress even earlier than the allegations surfaced.

Gaetz has been a staunch defender of Trump since he was elected in 2016. He centered his efforts in Congress much less on constructing relationships that would result in laws getting handed and extra on turning into a tv staple on conservative networks defending the then-President and going after his critics.

On Monday, Gaetz pushed again in opposition to the allegations in an op-ed and declared he was “absolutely not resigning.” Gaetz has additionally mentioned that his household is the sufferer of an extortion scheme, which the FBI is individually investigating. He framed the state of affairs on Monday as one during which the political enemies he has gathered have been now circulating.

“Folks won’t be surprised that bizarre claims are being made about me shortly after I decided to take on the most powerful institutions in the Beltway: the establishment; the FBI; the Biden Justice Department; the Cheney political dynasty; even the Justice Department under Trump,” Gaetz wrote.

Gaetz has had some defenders. Rep. Jim Jordan, the highest Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and one other shut Trump ally, mentioned in an announcement, “I believe Matt Gaetz. He should not be removed from the Judiciary Committee.” Jordan has confronted his own accusations that he was conscious of sexual abuse by a staff physician throughout his time as an Ohio State University assistant wrestling coach many years in the past, which he has steadfastly denied.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a conspiracy theory embracing Georgia Republican firebrand who was removed from her committees by means of a House vote this yr, additionally tweeted in help of Gaetz.
How Matt Gaetz is trying to change the subjectHow Matt Gaetz is trying to change the subject

But most Republicans have stayed conspicuously silent. GOP lawmakers and aides say it is a signal that they wish to see what turns into of the allegations in opposition to Gaetz, who has not been charged with against the law.

There’s no signal but that Gaetz can be eliminated from any committees, although he was one of many Republicans calling for Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, to be eliminated from the House Intelligence Committee after Swalwell was focused by a suspected Chinese spy. Swalwell has denied wrongdoing, saying he cooperated with the FBI when it notified him, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has mentioned he acted appropriately promptly chopping off ties.

“Keeping Eric Swalwell on the Intelligence Committee is like putting Anthony Weiner on the Ethics Committee,” Gaetz tweeted in December.

At least one Republican is taking steps to distance himself from Gaetz. Rep. David Valadao, a California Republican in a aggressive district, donated marketing campaign contributions he acquired from Gaetz’s marketing campaign committee in 2018 and 2020 to a company that helps victims of home abuse.

“The Valadao for Congress Campaign has donated the contributions to the Marjaree Mason Center in Fresno to support victims of domestic abuse,” marketing campaign spokesman Andrew Renteria mentioned.

It’s not but clear if others will observe swimsuit. NCS reached out to a number of GOP lawmakers who acquired contributions from Gaetz, and so they both didn’t say or didn’t reply to requests for remark about whether or not they would return or donate the funds.

The House is in the course of a two-week recess, making it simpler for Republicans to largely keep away from questions from reporters on Gaetz. That might change subsequent week when Congress returns — though there’s an opportunity Gaetz will not need to be there himself.

Gaetz is among the Republicans who has filed a letter with the House to permit for proxy voting, which was allowed final yr on account of the coronavirus pandemic. Gaetz has designated Rep. Michael Waltz, one other Florida Republican, to solid a proxy vote for him, although a Waltz spokesman mentioned Tuesday that Gaetz has not but requested him to take action as soon as Congress returns subsequent week.

“Rep. Waltz has not been asked to proxy vote next session,” the spokesman mentioned.

This story has been up to date with further developments Tuesday.

NCS’s Manu Raju, Lauren Fox, Annie Grayer and Jessica Dean contributed to this report.


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