Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a staunch defender of President Donald Trump, is playing less of a role than expected in defending the president from charges leveled in an impeachment inquiry, but he will remain a fixture among Trump supporters.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — He’s not playing the central role he might have expected, but Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., remains full-throated in his defense of President Donald Trump as an impeachment trial proceeds in the Senate.
Gaetz, called “the Trumpiest Congressman in Trump’s Washington” in an April 2018 profile in GQ magazine, had been widely expected to have a major role in defending Trump in the media against charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
But as the Senate impeachment trial approached, Gaetz fell out of favor with the White House after he voted in favor of a House resolution to limit the president’s power to wage war in Iran without congressional approval.
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For Gaetz, the Jan. 9 vote came on the same day that Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Goble, a Green Beret with the Eglin Air Force Base-headquartered 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery after dying as the result of a Taliban weapons cache explosion in Afghanistan.
Defending his vote at the time, Gaetz said, “If the members of our armed services have the courage to go and fight and die in these wars, as Congress, we ought to have the courage to vote for them or against them.”
Gaetz’s district includes Eglin, Hurlburt Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola and a number of other military installations.
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According to Gaetz, his ouster from the inner circle of impeachment defenders came at the hands of a White House staff member.
“Some staffer I’ve never met (and who President Trump didn’t remember) apparently nixed me,” Gaetz wrote in a Monday exchange of text messages with the Daily News. “This stuff happens in Washington.”
But, Gaetz added, he remains in the president’s good graces.
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“When we discussed my role recently, the president told me to stay on TV and fight like hell,” the congressman wrote.
“I was defending the president on television last night,” Gaetz wrote Monday. “And the night before. And I’ll be doing it again tonight.”
Each of those appearances came on Fox News, on Saturday’s “Watter’s World,” Sunday’s “The Next Revolution,” and Monday’s “The Ingraham Angle.”
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On “The Next Revolution,” Gaetz addressed both the politics of impeachment and the upcoming presidential election.
Gaetz claimed the push for impeachment testimony from people like John Bolton and Lev Parnas is an attempt by Democrats “to keep the show lively because they know that the underlying facts do not support impeachment and would require this president to be exonerated.”
Bolton is Trump’s former national security adviser, and Parnas is a Soviet-born American businessman who reportedly worked with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
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Giuliani and Parnas reportedly worked to arrange a deal in which the Ukrainian government would announce an investigation into the family of 2020 Democratic presidential front-runner and former U.S. senator and Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for the release of military aid from the United States.
“Witnesses never called in the House (where the articles of impeachment against Trump were developed) are just a ploy to extend this mess for political reasons,” Gaetz said.
Turning his attention to a potential match-up between Biden and Trump in November, Gaetz said on “The Next Revolution” that Biden “is the candidate that allows Donald Trump, as the incumbent president, to run as the agent of change.”
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“I think that gives the president a huge advantage,” Gaetz continued.
Trump’s counsel opened their defense of the president in the Senate on Saturday, and continued on Monday.
“I think they did very well,” Gaetz said of the Saturday presentation. Looking forward Monday to the remainder of the president’s counsel’s presentation, Gaetz said, “My hope is that ... they will incorporate more video of Democrat witnesses saying ’no bribery,’ ’no extortion,’ ’no crime’.”
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As far as how he and the president’’s other defenders should augment the president’s case, Gaetz said, “I think we should all follow the argument framework developed by Jay (Jay Sekulow, part of the president’s legal team) — that this is a set-up stemming from the failed set-ups from Crossfire Hurricane (an FBI probe into possible connections between Trump associates and Russian officials as the Russians worked to interfere in the 2016 presidential election) to the orphaned Mueller investigation (a special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election).”
No human being is ever in a more hyperbolic state than when they’re pitching a book deal.
John Bolton isn’t negotiating testimony, he’s negotiating the size of his advance. pic.twitter.com/FyiLvqYBgm
Along with his work in defending the president, Gaetz said Monday, “I also expect to continue to play a significant role in the president’s re-election. Next week I travel to Iowa with Donald Trump Jr. to rally Republican caucus-goers. After that I’ll be at Mar-a-Lago (Trump’s Florida resort) fundraising with the First Family.”
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Gaetz will be among 80 Trump surrogates headed to Iowa in advance of the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses, along with Cabinet members, Republican governors and state legislators.
“We will win the trial and the election,” Gaetz said, “but we aren’t taking anything for granted.”