GOP members past and present have remained silent on their support for media-hungry Congressman Matt Gaetz, who continues to refuse to resign amid claims he paid women for ecstasy-fueled sex and sex-trafficked a minor.
The Florida lawmaker and close Trump ally has found few friends on Capitol Hill since the scandal erupted this week revealing he is under investigation by the DOJ for having sex with a 17-year-old girl and trafficking her across state lines.
Out of 30 current and former Republican party members approached by Business Insider, only a handful would comment on whether they had reached out to the congressman or offered him advice in recent days.
Those who would speak had far from favorable things to say about the 38-year-old, calling him a ‘cancer on the party’ and claiming his political agenda merely centers around ‘getting more clicks.’
Calls are mounting for him to resign from office with Meghan McCain demanding his removal while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he should be kicked off his House committees if the claims against him are true.
A source told DailyMail.com the congressman’s arrest is imminent after the alleged victim testified she was underage when she had sex with him.
A defiant Gaetz continues to claim he is the victim – of an elaborate extortion plot – and has vowed not to stand down, telling the Washington Examiner in a text Friday afternoon: ‘I’m not resigning.’
GOP members past and present have remained silent on their support for media-hungry Matt Gaetz who continues to refuse to resign amid claims he paid women for ecstasy-fueled sex and sex-trafficked a minor
Former Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, whose time on Capitol Hill overlapped with Gaetz for two years, told Insider Gaetz was a ‘cancer’ for the Republican party and that she would be glad to see the back of him.
‘Like Trump, he’s a cancer on the party,’ she said.
Comstock also said she believes it ‘speaks volumes’ that Donald Trump has remained silent on the allegations against Gaetz, given the two men are close and the congressman has publicly supported the ex-president in his own hours of need.
Gaetz backed the former president during both impeachment trials and has been a regular fixture at his Mar-a-Lago estate – even proposing to his fiancée there in December.
The congressman also falsely claimed that the MAGA mob rioters that stormed the Capitol leaving five dead on January 6 were Antifa.
‘Okay, you spent your whole four years pretty much sucking up and defending Trump. And where’s Donald Trump? Where’s Trump Jr.? Where are all these people who you spent all your time [with], instead of your constituents?’ Comstock said.
‘They aren’t there for you. I think that speaks volumes.’
Denver Riggleman, who served as the US Representative for Virginia’s 5th congressional district from 2018 to 2020, also hit out at Gaetz accusing him of throwing his support behind the ‘crazy caucus’ to get attention and feed his ego.
He is ‘really supporting the crazy caucus in a way that gets you more clicks,’ he said.
‘You see people who get drunk on their own bathwater. They drink it and drink it, until they can’t take anymore.’
Former Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, whose time on Capitol Hill overlapped with Gaetz for two years, told Insider Gaetz was a ‘cancer’ for the Republican party and that she would be glad to see the back of him
Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (left) hit out at Gaetz accusing him of throwing his support behind the ‘crazy caucus’ to get ‘more clicks’. Mac Stipanovich (right), a long-time Republican strategist and lobbyist, said Gaetz is not well-liked even within his own party
Mac Stipanovich, a long-time Republican strategist and lobbyist who now has no party affiliation, said Gaetz is not well-liked even within his own party.
‘He is a slasher, and that does not endear you to people, even people on your side,’ he said.
Even some of Gaetz’s allies ‘probably don’t include his good health in their prayers every night,’ said Stipanovich, who has been fishing with the congressman before.
According to Insider, no other Republicans including all the sitting Florida Republicans in the 117th Congress, fellow promoters of Trump’s false claims of election fraud, former Trump appointees, local party leaders, Gaetz’s colleagues from his time in the Tallahassee state house, and political strategists, would comment on the congressman.
One other unnamed ex-GOP member simply replied that they no longer work in Florida politics.
Publicly, just two of 211 congressional Republicans have said they stand by Gaetz.
They are Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan, both of whom have been plagued by their own scandals.
Greene is the QAnon-supporting freshman Georgia lawmaker who was stripped of her committee assignments in February as it emerged she had pushed unfounded conspiracy theories and showed support for executing top Democrats before being elected to Congress.
‘Remember all the conspiracy theories and lies like Trump/Russia collusion and propaganda that the media has spread around. Take it from me rumors and headlines don’t equal truth. I stand with @mattgaetz,’ tweeted Greene this week.
Trump has remained silent on the allegations despite the two men being close allies, Gaetz publicly supporting him in his impeachment trials and Gaetz getting engaged at Mar-a-Lago in December. Pictured Trump and Gaetz
In another tweet she called for the release of FBI tapes Gaetz has claimed prove the extortion plot.
‘The DOJ needs to release the tapes instead of allowing another witch hunt to take place,’ she wrote.
Meanwhile Jordan, who is also a Trump loyalist, was accused in 2018 of covering up sexual abuse by a team doctor at Ohio State University when he was a coach at the college from 1986 to 1994. Jordan has denied the allegations.
Jordan told CNN this week: ‘I believe Matt Gaetz.’
Amid the echo chamber from the Republican party and Trump, Gaetz’s position on Capitol Hill was dealt another blow Friday as a close aide jumped ship.
Communication director Luke Ball quit out of ‘principle’ amid the escalating flood of allegations against Gaetz.
Gaetz’s congressional office said in a statement: ‘The Office of Congressman Matt Gaetz and Luke Ball have agreed that it would be best to part ways.
‘We thank him for his time in our office, and we wish him the best moving forward.’
Several sources told NBC this week that Gaetz is not well-liked because of his criticism of fellow Republicans.
Gaetz railed against GOP Rep. Liz Cheney at the Wyoming capitol back in January after she voted to impeach Trump.
Publicly, just two of 211 congressional Republicans have said they stand by Gaetz. They are Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan (above), both of whom have been plagued by their own scandals
Greene (center) is the QAnon-supporting freshman Georgia lawmaker who was stripped of her committee assignments in February as it emerged she had pushed unfounded conspiracy theories and showed support for executing top Democrats before being elected to Congress
Meanwhile, his constant self-promotion and near-daily appearances on right-wing news outlets, especially Fox, are also another source of contention among other Republicans, sources said.
But, while few have leaped to his defense, GOP lawmakers have also not spoken out condemning the allegations either.
McCarthy said Wednesday Gaetz would be removed from his committee assignments if he’s found to be guilty of sex trafficking.
‘Those are serious implications. If it comes out to be true, yes, we would remove him if that’s the case,’ McCarthy told Fox News.
‘But right now Matt Gaetz says that it’s not true and we don’t have any information. So let’s get all the information.’
But McCarthy has faced criticism for his lack of action with Rep. Ted Lieu, from California’s 33rd Congressional District, urging him to oust the congressman from his committee appointments while the probe is underway.
‘Dear @GOPLeader: You don’t seem to get it. If it’s true Rep Matt Gaetz engaged in sex trafficking, he needs to resign and be prosecuted,’ he tweeted.
‘In the meantime, you can’t have Gaetz sitting on the Congressional Committee that has oversight over the Department that is investigating him.’
Gaetz serves on the House Judiciary Committee – alongside Lieu – which oversees the administration of justice including within federal law enforcement agencies.
It emerged Tuesday Gaetz is under investigation by the DOJ for having sex with a girl, 17, and sex trafficking a minor
Ginger Luckey and Matt Gaetz. Gaetz got engaged to food analyst Luckey, 26, in December at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
McCarthy said Wednesday Gaetz would only be removed from his committee assignments if he’s found to be guilty of sex trafficking.
It emerged Tuesday that Gaetz was under investigation by the DOJ for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and for violating federal sex trafficking laws by paying for her to travel across state lines with him.
Gaetz denied the allegations and instead claimed he was the victim of an extortion plot involving former Justice Department official David McGee.
He claims McGee was trying to extort him and his family for $25 million using the sex trafficking probe as leverage.
Gaetz said he and his father – former Florida State Senator Don Gaetz – contacted authorities and were working with the FBI on a simultaneous investigation, with Don backing up his son’s claims Wednesday that he wore a wire to try to expose McGee’s apparent plot.
McGee denied he was extorting Gaetz and said he had no involvement in the DOJ sex trafficking probe into Gaetz other than being one of ‘a thousand people who have heard the rumors’ about the congressman’s alleged actions with underage girls.
On Wednesday, Gaetz released bombshell text message screenshots, an email and a printout purporting to show the alleged extortion plot.
The documents, which were shared with the Washington Examiner, claim to show the congressman was being extorted by McGee and former Air Force intelligence officer Bob Kent in a ploy to help rescue American hostage Robert Levinson from Iran.
According to the documents, Gaetz had been seen in compromising photos having sex with underage prostitutes, a grand jury had heard testimony from at least one underage girl who says she was paid to have sex with him and Gaetz was about to be indicted on charges.
The alleged extorters claimed they could stop the probe if the Gaetz family put up $25million which would help secure Levinson’s release.
Levinson worked for the FBI for 22 years then vanished in 2007 while in Iran. Nothing was known as to whether he was alive or dead until 2011 when Levinson’s family shared images and a video of him being held captive and pleading for help.
Levinson’s family said in March 2020 that they had been informed by US officials that he had died in Iranian custody, while being held in Iran as the longest-held hostage in American history.
New details emerged Thursday that the DOJ probe involved Gaetz allegedly paying women for drug-fueled sex. The women met his ally Joel Greenberg through ‘sugar daddy’ websites such as SeekingArrangement, investigators believe
But Kent claimed he was very much alive and that if Gaetz provided the money to release him, he would be given public credit for the operation and the ‘team’ would tell President Biden to give him a pardon in the sex trafficking case, according to the documents shared by Gaetz.
McGee used to work for the Department of Justice but now works in private practice and is the Levinson family’s lawyer. Kent has claimed in the past that he has worked on plans to secure Levinson’s release.
Kent denied the claims Thursday telling the Times he had heard about the DOJ probe into Gaetz but was not trying to extort him over it.
McGee also denied any involvement in an extortion plot and Gaetz was trying to detract from the sex trafficking allegations.
On Thursday, fresh allegations surfaced claiming Gaetz had shown other lawmakers naked photos and videos of women he said he had slept with and boasted about his sexual conquests to his colleagues.
Greenberg (pictured) was slapped with a string of charges last year including sex trafficking of a minor between the age of 14 and 17
Multiple sources, including two people who said they had been shown the compromising photos first hand, told CNN, the 38-year-old congressman displayed the images of the women on his phone including while he was on the House floor at the US Capitol.
The report sparked further calls for the lawmaker to resign from his role.
New details about the DOJ sex trafficking probe surfaced in a bombshell report by the New York Times Thursday night.
The report revealed Gaetz had allegedly paid women via Apple Pay for ecstasy-fueled sex at Florida hotels after being introduced to them by former tax collector Joel Greenberg.
Multiple women reportedly told DOJ investigators Gaetz would tell them a time and place to meet and how much he was willing to pay them for sex.
They would then meet in hotels in Florida where the lawmaker and staunch Trump ally would sometimes take ecstasy before they had sex, the women said.
The DOJ investigation is also reportedly looking into whether one of the women involved with Gaetz was 17 at the time and whether he paid her or gave her gifts to have sex with him.
Gaetz was reportedly first introduced to the women through close ally Greenberg, the former tax collector of Seminole County who investigators believe met the women through ‘sugar daddy’ websites.
Gaetz has claimed he is the victim – of an extortion plot – involving former DOJ official David McGee (left) to help rescue American hostage Robert Levinson (right) from Iran
Greenberg is currently in jail awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges related to a minor aged between 14 and 17 across a six-month period in 2017.
Sources said the minor is the same 17-year-old girl at the center of Gaetz’s sex trafficking probe and the DOJ is investigating whether other men connected to the two men also had sex with the child.
The two men were pictured together on social media with Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress, in 2017.
A source close to the DOJ probe told DailyMail.com Friday Gaetz is expected to be indicted within the next few weeks as Greenberg is believed to have turned on him.
Gaetz’s arrest is said to be imminent after the alleged victim, who has not been named, testified before a Florida grand jury this week saying she had sex with the conservative Republican before she turned 18, DailyMail.com has learned.
The investigation into Gaetz first spiraled from a probe into Greenberg.
Gaetz denies ever having paid anyone for sex and has not been charged with any crime.
‘Matt Gaetz has never paid for sex. Matt Gaetz refutes all the disgusting allegations completely,’ his office told the Times in a statement.
‘Matt Gaetz has never ever been on any such websites whatsoever. Matt Gaetz cherishes the relationships in his past and looks forward to marrying the love of his life.’