Somehow, the allegations surrounding Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz have managed to get even weirder. The New York Times reports that shortly before Trump left office, Gaetz “privately asked the White House” for “blanket pre-emptive pardons” for himself and his congressional allies.
Despite Gaetz’s loyalty to Trump and Trumpism, the Trump White House passed on Gaetz’s request, worried that it would “set a bad precedent.” The Trump White House is nothing if not a beacon of bad precedent setting, so pardoning Gaetz wouldn’t have been much of a deviation from the norm. But this does beg the question of whether Gaetz was as ignorant of the FBI’s investigation as he has vehemently claimed. It’s not necessarily a smoking gun, but it’s curious: Why would he request a blanket pardon if he didn’t do anything wrong?
On March 30, the Times reported that Gaetz is being investigated by the Department of Justice over allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Later that week, the investigation expanded to allegations that Gaetz paid for sex via a sugar daddy website and even violated federal sex trafficking laws. This, in concert with claims that Gaetz showed fellow lawmakers nude photos of women he was having sex with, have elevated Gaetz’s creep factor and certainly make the prospect of Gaetz requesting a pardon just in case easy enough to believe.
But Team Gaetz is denying the pardoning claims. A spokesman released the following statement:
Entry-level political operatives have conflated a pardon call from Representative Gaetz — where he called for President Trump to pardon ‘everyone from himself, to his administration, to Joe Exotic’ — with these false and increasingly bizarre, partisan allegations against him. Those comments have been on the record for some time, and President Trump even retweeted the congressman, who tweeted them out himself.
These comments were relegated to Gaetz’s Twitter feed and a Fox News appearance in late November, in which Gaetz also said, “You see from the radical left a bloodlust that will only be quenched if they come after the people who worked so hard to animate the Trump administration with the policies and the vigor and the effectiveness that delivered for the American people.” The idea that Gaetz’s offhandedly suggesting Trump pardon Joe Exotic, Michael Flynn, and Trump himself on national television is getting confused or “conflated” with reports of Gaetz privately asking the Trump White House for a pardon is a stretch.
It doesn’t look like many of Gaetz’s fellow Republican lawmakers are interested in throwing him a life vest either.
From Vanity Fair (emphasis ours):
Gaetz had few friends in Washington in the first place: He was a bombastic advocate for Trump, but wasn’t taken entirely seriously within the former president’s circle. He’s commanded a large national profile, thanks to his talent for finding cameras and standing in front of them, but has done nothing concrete with it, having never written a bill that has been passed into law in the four-plus years he’s been in Congress. He’s made some fans among the MAGA faithful, but to everyone else—including most of his colleagues, apparently—he’s regarded as little more than a self-promoting asshole.
On Capitol Hill, Gaetz has found support from right-wing Representatives Jim Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene. But the backing of the guy who allegedly turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of wrestlers at Ohio State and the lady best known for her devotion to conspiracy theories and for harassing a school shooting survivor? That would seem to hurt his cause more than help it. The top House Republican, Kevin McCarthy, called the allegations “serious” and said he’d strip Gaetz of his assignments if they are proven true, and his fellow GOP lawmakers have largely avoided saying anything in his defense. Even Trumpworld has been mostly silent on the allegations.
One of the only people who isn’t keeping quiet is a man named Joel Greenberg, a Florida tax collector who is in jail awaiting trial after being indicted for a federal sex trafficking charge and other offenses last year. Investigators at the DOJ believe that Gaetz paid individuals for sex who he met through Greenberg. This includes the 17-year-old Gaetz allegedly had a sexual relationship with, a girl Greenberg has been accused of “trafficking.” A source told the Daily Mail that Greenberg is “singing to the feds.”
At this point... resign, bitch.