Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
By now you have probably read something about Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and the investigation into his connections to the alleged sex trafficking of a minor. The allegations stem from Gaetz's rosy relationship with disgraced former Seminole County, Florida, Republican tax collector Joel Greenberg. Greenberg faces a slew of charges that include allegations that he used his access to state tax databases to "recruit and solicit an underage girl for sex."
Rep. Gaetz's short political career has been marked by histrionics like wearing a gas mask for an early House vote on COVID-19 relief, lying about election fraud conspiracy theories and the insurrection at the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, and controversy like wondering whether or not Black Lives Matters protesters could be lynched. These new allegations are both disturbing and, unfortunately, not surprising.
Also less than surprising: Republican legislators' reactions to these new charges. Rep. Jim Jordan, best known for allegedly turning his back on numerous young men being sexually abused under his watch while an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, told CNN's Ryan Nobles that "I believe Matt Gaetz."
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked about the Department of Justice investigation into Rep. Gaetz on Fox News and it was strange to watch the California Republican look into the camera with a smile on his face while responding. It was even stranger when McCarthy was asked about Rep. Gaetz's lone vote against human trafficking legislation back in 2017.
It was exactly two weeks ago that Rep. McCarthy filed a motion to the House Ethics committee to have Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell removed from the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, based on reports of the Swalwell campaign's connection to an alleged Chinese intelligence officer. Fox News mentioned that bit of news and asked McCarthy if the same rules would apply to Rep. Gaetz—pointing out that if the allegations are true, Rep. Gaetz would have "violated federal sex trafficking laws."
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: Look, I haven't heard from DOJ. I haven't been able to talk to Matt Gaetz yet, I just read the story. Those are serious implications. If it comes out to be true yes we would remove him, if that was case but right now, as Matt Gaetz says [sic] it is not true. We don't have any information. So let's get all the information.
The likelihood that the leader of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives has not spoken with one of his party's most public figures in the 20 hours after serious allegations have been leaked to the press—in which time that public figure has appeared on television—seems low. But, who knows? Based on how the GOP and corruption work these days, plausible deniability seems to be every conservative operative's best defense.
As Vox's Aaron Rupar illustrated on social media, McCarthy's entire defense of his party is pleading ignorance when it comes to Rep. Matt Gaetz. Back in 2017, Rep. Gaetz became the sole human being in Congress to vote against the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, a bill that everyone thought would improve our country's ability to stop human trafficking. Fox News hosts brought this up to McCarthy and asked why did Gaetz do that? Along with his tieless off-gray dress shirt and dark blazer, McCarthy gave this remarkable answer.
REP. MCCARTHY: For human trafficking? No, no I have no idea whatsoever why he would vote against that.
Rep. Gaetz was forced to do a livestream Facebook explanation of why he voted against the human trafficking law back in 2017, and said something something big government. "Unless there is an overwhelming, compelling reason that our existing agencies in the federal government can't handle that problem, I vote no because voters in Northwest Florida did not send me to Washington to go and create more federal government."
It was a strange bit of business even for a Republican following the lead of the Trump administration. But the Minority Leader of the Republican Party almost seems as if he's barely met Rep. Gaetz.
Meanwhile Trump-pardoned, criminally convicted Roger Stone added to his list of threatening social media posts an attack on the New York Times reporter who broke the Rep. Gaetz story, Mike Schmidt, saying:"I am going to publicly humiliate New York Times reporter Mike Schmidt tomorrow. He is the single most dishonest fabricator of the Russian hoax narrative in American press corps. And now he's doing it again with the smear of Matt Gaetz. Watch for the slap down of this cretin #The NewYorkTimessucks." (A special note here: Stone put a space between the "e" in "The" and the "N" in "New," thus turning his attempted hashtag into #The.)
It's important to remember here that people like Matt Gaetz and Kevin McCarthy are the guys that QAnon conspirators mostly support in their pretend crusade against the evil sex trafficking being perpetrated by liberals, Jews, and other "elites" in the basements of pizza places everywhere.
The Republican Party's hypocrisy knows no bounds. This is a sentence that could be placed in virtually every story written on politics and society over the last four or five decades. The preoccupation they have shown with the sexual scandals, the implications of sexual scandals, the whiff of a possible sexual scandal across the the aisle, has led to tens of millions of dollars spent in federal money on the non-criminal sexual activities of Democrats. Meanwhile, the very real implication of a true crime being committed, a crime that virtually every American agrees is a crime, leads to the GOP creating nothing but wiggle room. The wheel spinning done to obfuscate their own party's sexual mistakes, their moral sexual failings, and most importantly their criminal sexual assaults and criminal complicity in the coverups of sexual assaults, is a dark bit of business.
Our very own Jen Hayden has some ideas on how to get Fox News to pursue this news story.
That might just work.
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