Trouble for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R – Fl)

The Story:

Matt Gaetz, the Republican congressman representing Florida’s first district (which includes Pensacola) is embroiled in an underage sex scandal early in this, his third term in office. The scandal threatens to reverse the course of his meteoric rise of prominence.

Background:

The scandal began with a leak from the Department of Justice to The New York Times of information that the Department is investigating Gaetz on suspicion that he had a relationship with a 17-year old girl and that he crossed state lines with her in 2019, in violation of federal law. Gaetz himself has confirmed the existence of this investigation, though he blames it on an extortion effort.

Gaetz then appeared on the Tucker Carlson show on Fox News. He said the charges were false and sought to detail the extortion scheme. But his performance was so erratic that he seemed to alienate potential sympathizers. He certainly confused Carlson more than once.

The Thing to Know:

Gaetz has distinguished himself as a stalwart Trump defender, through numerous crises and two impeachment inquiries. Perhaps oddly, then, Gaetz has not received any words of support from the former President or his inner circle in the days since the DoJ leak.

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