Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) hasn’t seen many of his fellow GOP lawmakers stand up for him amid his burgeoning scandal involving alleged sex trafficking — and apparently that’s no surprise.
CNN anchor Dana Bash on Friday reported that she’d been receiving scathing texts from Republicans outright trashing the Florida congressman, who is under federal investigation for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old, paying for her travel and making cash payments to women who were recruited online for sex (he denies the allegations).
“If you could see my text messages from some of his current and former colleagues … I actually can’t repeat what some of them say on morning television,” Bash told her co-anchors, adding that the congressman has “not made himself popular with most of his colleagues.”
“We’re talking about people who he has antagonized in the name of being as beholden and as loyal to the former president, Donald Trump, as possible, in the name of being on conservative media, being on Fox News,” she said.
The anchor pointed to Gaetz’ war on House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) after she voted to impeach ex-President Donald Trump for inciting the Capitol attack on Jan. 6. Gaetz, who billed himself as Trump’s top bulldog in Congress, demanded that Cheney be stripped of her leadership role and even went as far as traveling to her home state to openly encourage her constituents to kick her out of office.
That sideshow was Gaetz’s “most egregious” attack on a member of his own conference “in the eyes of many” of his fellow Republicans, according to Bash.
A Daily Beast report on more than half a dozen GOP lawmakers’ private remarks about Gaetz paints a similarly grim portrait of the congressman’s standing with his colleagues.
Those lawmakers described how Gaetz had cultivated a frat boy-like reputation for drugs, drinking, and chasing younger women, a characterization boosted by a CNN report alleging that the congressman enjoyed showing his colleagues on the House floor nude photos of women he claimed he had sex with.
“I don’t think you’ll find a lot of people who are desperate to keep him involved in Republican politics,” a GOP staffer told the Daily Beast.
For his part, Gaetz seems fully aware of his unpopularity — and that’s just how the congressman likes it, he claims.
“I know I have many enemies and few friends” on the Hill, Gaetz told the Daily Beast. “My support generally lies outside of Washington, D.C., and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Based on who’s publicly defended Gaetz so far since his legal woes began, the Republican’s “few friends” in Congress consist of fellow Trump foot soldiers Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was stripped of her committee assignments over her endorsement of deranged far-right conspiracy theories.