Matt Gaetz takes CPAC victory lap over sex trafficking probe: ‘Vindication looks pretty good on me’

Florida congressman’s close associate was sentenced to 11 years

John Bowden
Washington DC
Friday 03 March 2023 16:56 GMT
Trump supporter Matt Schlapp avoids The Independent when questioned over groping claims

Congressman Matt Gaetz appeared onstage for day 2 of Trumpworld’s CPAC bash in Washington DC, and took the opportunity to deliver a rambling tirade against Democrats that began with him celebrating his own political survival.

The Florida Republican found himself at the centre of an investigation headed by the Department of Justice into his alleged travels with a teenage girl for the purposes of sex while she was underage. Mr Gaetz has vehemently denied the charges, but his longtime associate Joel Greenberg would end up swallowed up by the investigation anyway and sentenced to a lengthy prison term after supposedly cooperating for months with prosecutors.

Many expected charges to be filed against the congressman, but news reports in recent weeks have indicated that no charges are coming.

“Vindication looks pretty good on me,” a confident Mr Gaetz extolled to CPAC attendees from the main stage on Friday.

He quickly moved on from that topic to his various complaints about the Democratic Party, which culminated in his outraged accusation that Democrats were trying to “discredit” a witness brought forward by Republicans on the House Oversight Committee.

The congressman’s complains centred around media reports which tore apart the credibility of FBI officials, one of whom is currently suspended, whom Republicans summoned to testify before the committee on the issue of “politicisation” at the Department of Justice.

While Democrats on the panel said in a statement that none of the GOP witnesses had actually alleged any specific wrongdoing, they went on to trash the believability of the assembed witnesses and pointed out that the group was actually funded and in some cases, employed, by a network of Trump administration appointees and allies who had organised the entire effort.

Mr Gaetz fumed at this revelation, which he played off as a charitable effort to help poor, underprivileged former federal agents with a few thousand dollars here and there to “buy a winter coat” or address other needs.

“[I]f the Democrats are going to obstruct our investigation, they shouldn’t be allowed to sit in the depositions and hear the evidence,” he argued, adding that he believed his political rivals were obstucting “rigorous oversight”.

The congressman went on to essentially admit that such a plan was patently unconstitutional, and would lead to a total breakdown of the US Congress as the minority party would lose essentially all rights to participate in governance.

“I think that means a fundamental reshaping of this government,” he said. “A reshaping of this town.”

His outlandish prescription for the US Congress comes as one of his allies, Marjorie Taylor Greene, has suggested the concept of a “national divorce” in various interviews, a theme echoed on the shirts and signs of many this week at CPAC’s gathering in National Harbor.

There’s no mechanism in the US Constitution that would allow for a so-called “national divorce” or the stripping of minority party rights from the US House of Representatives.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in