One would think that by this point, Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) would have disappeared from the political scene after he was accused of trafficking a minor across state lines for sex.
Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll have to wait for a formal indictment before there is any possibility of ridding the House of Representatives of his unseemly presence.
In the meantime, however, Gatez continues to act as one of the Republican Party’s most outspoken advocates of Donald Trump’s “big lie” about a stolen election and of the reactionary right-wing policies of Trumpism that have become the defacto GOP platform.
One of those policies is a fervent opposition to progressive calls to “defund the police,” an unfortunate misnomer for the reallocation of police budgets to fund less confrontational methods to deal with people suffering from public mental health crises and minor traffic violations.
Republicans like Rep. Gaetz have weaponized the idea of defunding the police to use against Democrats as a potent, if misleading, political tool as they try to paint their opposition as soft on crime rather than simply trying to prevent further unwarranted killings of unarmed Black people though law enforcement misconduct.
With Gaetz himself now reportedly under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his sex trafficking allegations, however, his attitudes towards law enforcement have become somewhat more complicated.
So much so that, after posting a tweet calling for the defunding of the FBI, the very bureau that has him in its crosshairs, Gaetz quickly thought better of how it might appear to his MAGA supporters who fly their Thin Blue Line flags outside their trailers and on their pickup trucks.
It only took the Florida congressman a minute to decide that he had better delete that tweet before he irreparably damaged his bona fides with the “law & order” crowd who have yet to abandon him for his alleged crimes.
Luckily, ProPublica‘s Politiwoops, a column that tracks the deleted posts of prominent politicians, managed to capture Gaetz’s ill-considered tweet before it disappeared into the cemetery of lost bits and posted it for the entire world to see.
Not exactly a good look for someone under active investigation, to say the least.
After a Vice News reporter reached out to Gaetz’s office for comment on the deleted tweet, a spokesperson for the congressman sent them this statement:
“Given how seriously Rep. Gaetz treats his interactions with the FBI — especially his latest work in pursuing the facts surrounding Chinese defector Dr. Li Meng Yan and her safety in the United States — Rep. Gaetz felt it appropriate to remove a jocular tweet taken from a speech some time ago. He looks forward to hearing back from FBI Director Christopher Wray on what the FBI knew about the COVID-19 origins when Dr. Yan first came to the U.S. in early 2020.”
Nothing like a little deflection to turn the topic away from the embarrassing reality of Gaetz’s own behavior which he continues to deny having participated in.
It’s not surprising for Trump supporters to be attacking the FBI these days with Republicans now stooping so low as to be accusing the bureau of masterminding the January 6th invasion of the Capitol after their attempts to place the blame for the insurrection on “false flag” efforts by Antifa or other left-wing groups fell flat for the laughable lack of credibility for that claim.
For Gaetz to do so while he is both under investigation by the bureau and sits on the House Judiciary Committee that is tasked with the oversight of the FBI is unconscionable.
No wonder Gaetz felt the need to delete his hypocritical tweet, particularly after previously making this statement during a committee hearing:
“It’s reasonable to ask whether or not the FBI is engaged in a playbook where first they infiltrate an organization and then they try to bring that organization to the point of criminal conduct as a mechanism to try and bring it down,” Gaetz said. “The FBI has a long history of this, dating back to even the Civil Rights era, and I certainly hope our premier law enforcement organization is not actually working to violate federal law.”
With Gaetz apparently a firm adherent of Trump’s deep state conspiracy theories, he seems to want to have it both ways — having himself perceived as a strong supporter of the GOP vision of “law & order” while attacking the agency tasked with enforcing the actual federal laws.
Representative Gaetz needs to be expelled from Congress as soon as possible to allow Florida’s citizens to elect a congressman not so ethically compromised as this alleged sex offender.
Original reporting by Paul Blest at Vice News.
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