Rep. Matt Gaetz mocks sex trafficking allegations — but Republican allies may be abandoning him
At this point, the perpetually odious Rep. Matt Gaetz has been confirmed by numerous press-discovered witnesses to, at the very least, have engaged in a pattern of attending illegal drug-fueled sex parties, regularly paid women for sex, paid at least one underage child for sex, and potentially involved himself in other crimes stemming from friend and fellow Florida Republican elected official Joel Greenberg's apparent attempts to commit as many state and federal felonies as possible in his brief in-office tenure. It seems vanishingly unlikely that Gaetz will not be charged with federal crimes, especially now that Greenberg himself has agreed to an ungenerous plea deal that will see him exchange testimony for slightly fewer years in prison than he might otherwise be serving.
Gaetz, however, has settled on the Trumpian approach of simply mocking the allegations against him, inviting his audiences to do the same. During a recent appearance at The Villages, Florida—think of the town as the love child of Branson, Missouri and syphilis—Gaetz joked to his retirement community audience that CNN would report his rally as "Matt Gaetz has wild party surrounded by beautiful women."
He was joined there by QAnon conspiracy promoter Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, because of course he was: This is the current state of the party. Both Gaetz's base and his most resilient House allies may have once dabbled in QAnon conspiracy theories about child sex trafficking and other supposed crimes by their enemies, but present them with an actual sex trafficker or other party-loyal criminals and they'll flock to town halls and conventions to give Team Sex Trafficking a standing ovation.
On Saturday, the alleged sex-addicted child-trafficking illegal drug user Gaetz again brushed aside his probable indictment, and his hard-right Republican audience was again eager to hear it. In a keynote speech to the "Ohio Political Summit," a Republican Party shindig, NBC News reported that Gaetz sniffed he was "being falsely accused of exchanging money for naughty favors."
"Yet, Congress has reinstituted a process that legalizes the corrupt act of exchanging money for favors, through earmarks, and everybody knows that that's the corruption," he continued.
Yes, in Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz's measured estimation of these things, stocking your political speech afterparty with cocaine and sex workers or repeatedly paying a minor to perform sex acts is certainly less of a scandal than pressuring for a new highway to be built in your district. The man may have stumbled on the most condensed essence of new Republicanism, in fact. Crimes are good; governing is bad; let us all band together and protect the extortionists, the seditionists and the child rapists rather than let our enemies allow new bridges to be built.
The man is on fire. Not literally, unfortunately.
NBC News reports that Gaetz received a "standing ovation" from the roughly 400-person Republican crowd after his remarks, which again checks out: The party base continues Republican Party and Republican elected officials' own efforts to elevate, rather than shun, those that commit crooked or violent acts. From assaulting reporters to international extortion to shows of solidarity with those attempting actual insurrection, the party's fascist instincts have coalesced into a blanket defense of corruption and scandal paired with nonsensical rantings about the supposed crimes of outsiders. Rep. Jim Jordan not only survived after multiple accusers identified him as turning a blind eye to the molestation of athletes under his care, as college wrestling coach, but attacked his accusers so sneeringly and aggressively that his colleagues rewarded him with a new congressional omnipresence in any hearing or probe in which any other Republican was being accused of grotesque or criminal behavior.
Gaetz himself made a nod in that direction Saturday, lavishing praise on Jordan and telling the audience that he aspired to becoming "the Robin" to Jordan's "Batman."
The two men do seem to share an implicit bond. Whatever could it be.
There are, however, some signs that Gaetz's party believes he may now be unsalvageable. NBC noted that "several" Republican candidates for office, as well as Gaetz ally and seditionist crackpot Rep. Lauren Boebert, backed out of the Ohio event after organizers added Matt Gaetz as a speaker. Ducking out rather than publicly appearing in the same room as your once-ally is generally a step taken only when there is an expectation that mugshots will be arriving in coming days; given that Gaetz's party continues to slather Trump with praise even after Trump stoked true violent sedition, Boebert and kin must believe Gaetz's legal troubles to both significant and rather … imminent. Not, as Gaetz himself continues to insist, merely a question of paying for "naughty favors."
Just from what we know from published news reports, the dude was soliciting college teens for sex at a hotel room party while snorting lines of cocaine provided by an escort off the bathroom countertop. As a Member of the House.
Yeah, that may pass for "family values" among the loyal Republican base, but it still doesn't here in the heartland of Literally Anywhere Else.
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