In a rant on day two of the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) assailed Democratic lawmakers and threatened to abolish federal law enforcement agencies, including the Justice Department (DOJ), which probed him for alleged sex trafficking.
On the stage, Gaetz took a victory lap over the DOJ’s decision not to charge him in its long-running sex trafficking investigation, at the peak of which Gaetz’s close friend, Joel Greenberg, pleaded guilty to six federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor, and was sentenced to 11 years behind bars.
The investigation started in late 2020 and focused on allegations that Gaetz was sexually involved with a 17-year-old girl. Career prosecutors later recommended that the DOJ not charge Gaetz because of credibility concerns about Greenberg and another central witness, the Washington Post reported in September. However, Gaetz, who had since denied wrongdoing, called the DOJ’s decision a “vindication.”
“If you don’t mind me saying so, I think vindication looks good on me,” Gaetz said with glee, drawing cheers from the CPAC attendees. Then, the congressman pivoted to a tirade against his Democratic colleagues, whom he accused of penning a “smear piece” against a “whistleblower” deposed by the House GOP to prove alleged government bias against Republicans.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Friday released a 300-page-plus report saying, in part, that three witnesses deposed by the GOP in its investigation into the alleged politicization of the FBI weren’t credible. The trio, Democrats said, were aggrieved ex-FBI officials who spread right-wing conspiracy theories, including about Covid-19 vaccines and the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack, and had received monetary support from an ally to former President Donald Trump.
“The three individuals we have met are not, in fact, ‘whistleblowers.’ These individuals, who put forward a wide range of conspiracy theories, did not present actual evidence of any wrongdoing at the Department of Justice or the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the committee Democrats wrote, per The Hill.
“Each endorses an alarming series of conspiracy theories related to the January 6 Capitol attack, the COVID vaccine, and the validity of the 2020 election. One has called repeatedly for the dismantling of the FBI. Another suggested that it would be better for Americans to die than to have any kind of domestic intelligence program,” stated the report.
That report, Gaetz told the far-right CPAC attendees, was tantamount to the obstruction of a congressional investigation, a charge for which Democrats must be removed from House GOP’s subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government.
“These are the [Republican reps.] Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz days,” Gaetz said to a roaring round of applause. “And If the Democrats are going to obstruct our investigation, then I am calling to remove the Democrats from our investigation.”
He added, “They shouldn’t be allowed to sit in the depositions and hear the evidence if they are going to use that to try to get in the way of thorough, rigorous oversight,” he added.
\u201cBREAKING: I'm calling for Democrats to be REMOVED from the depositions of the @Weaponization Subcommittee!\n\n#CPAC2023\u201d— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@Rep. Matt Gaetz) 1677860059
Acknowledging that such a move would destabilize the balance of power in the U.S. Congress as the minority party would have no say in legislation, Gaetz continued, “I think that means a fundamental reshaping of this government. A reshaping of this town.”
Gaetz also blasted the Biden Administration for the “weaponization of this government” and claimed, without evidence, that it used its federal law enforcement agencies to spy on Americans, for which he suggested the agencies be abolished.
"Seems like every time I turn around, they engage in surveillance or list building or monitoring," he said. "I don’t care if it takes every second of our time and every ounce of our energy. We either get this government back on our side, or we defund and get rid of, abolish the FBI, the CDC, ATF, DOJ, every last one of them if they do not come to heel.”