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AOC comes to unlikely defence of Matt Gaetz as House Republicans seek to expel him

‘The idea that Republicans would expel Gaetz over creating political headaches for themselves but not Santos over indictment... seems wild’

Bevan Hurley
Monday 02 October 2023 15:40 BST
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House votes to fund government for further 45 days

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says it would be “wild” for House Republicans to expel renegade Matt Gaetz after they refused to take action against criminally indicted congressman George Santos.

The GOP is reportedly seeking to take enact revenge on Mr Gaetz after he led a far-right coalition that rebelled against efforts by House speaker Kevin McCarthy to reach a spending deal on Saturday.

Mr Gaetz has been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee since 2021 over claims he violated sex trafficking laws, accepted a bribe, and spent campaign funds for personal use.

The committee is in the final stages of completing its report, and if it returns guilty findings, Republicans are said to be planning to hold a vote to expel Mr Gaetz.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez weighed into the escalating feud with an unexpected defence of the far-right Florida congressman on Sunday.

“The idea that Republicans would expel Gaetz over creating political headaches for themselves but not Santos over indictment on 13 Federal charges, including 7 counts of wire fraud and 2 counts of lying to Congress, seems wild,” she wrote on X.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has emerged as an unlikely defender of Matt Gaetz (Twitter/Olivia Julliana)

“GOP created this problem for themselves by setting the bar for protecting grave misconduct: they did NOT vote to censure or expel their member over violent images of killing another member of Congress & are currently protecting a member from expulsion despite 13 fed indictments.”

Mr Santos was indicted in May on charges of embezzling money from his campaign, falsely receiving unemployment funds and lying to Congress about his finances.

He has denied the charges.

Mr McCarthy said at the time he would only call for the New York Congressman to resign if he were convicted or found to have broken the law by the House Ethics Committee.

On Saturday, the House speaker infuriated members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus when he struck a last-minute deal with the support of Democrats to avert a government shutdown.

Mr Gaetz has since declared war on Mr McCarthy, telling several Sunday shows that he will offer a motion this week to vacate the House chair this week.

Mr McCarthy may require the support of House Democrats to survive the vote to oust him.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez said on Sunday progressives in the party would seek significant concessions in return for saving Mr McCarthy’s job.

“I think Kevin McCarthy is a very weak speaker. He clearly has lost control of his caucus,” she told CNN.

“He has brought the United States and millions of Americans to the brink waiting until the final hour to keep the government open and even then only issuing a 45-day extension. So we’re going to be right back in this place in November.”

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