A Republican congressman says former President Donald Trump gave him and another neo-Nazi representative a green light to do a hatchet job on former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida says both he and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia have spoken with Trump about their joint national speaking tour to attack Trump’s critics and spread lies about the 2020 US election.
The Florida congressman, who’s under federal investigation on suspicion of paying a 17-year-old girl for sex, gave an interview in which he framed his series of rallies with Greene, a fellow MAGA enthusiast who regularly condemns COVID-19 vaccination efforts, as a way to help clear the 2024 presidential field for Trump.
“The Marjorie-and-Matt tour—other than the Trump rallies—is the big thing going on at our party,” Gaetz told Vanity Fair. “It is this interesting reflection of MAGA that the more they cancel and smear and deplatform and all that, the stronger we get out on the road.”
“Our thinking is we’re kind of the advance team for Trump if any of these, you know, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley kind of like half-Trumpers or Never Trumpers try to run,” said Gaetz. “I’ve talked to the president about it. Marjorie has talked to the president about it. And he likes the idea of having the energetic characters in our party out there in the early-primary states keeping the band in tune, if you will.”
“If Adam Kinzinger wants to be the front man for the establishment to bring our party back to the days of Mitt Romney and John Kasich, you know what, I’m not going back,” said Gaetz, during an appearance at The Villages. “This is Donald Trump’s party, and I’m a Donald Trump Republican.”
The two far-right members of Congress are using the tour to spread the lie casting doubt on Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 election. Greene — a freshman lawmaker who repeatedly promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory as a House candidate — and Gaetz are among the most polarizing members of the House GOP and are also particularly adept at raking in campaign cash from the party’s pro-Trump base.
Gaetz told Vanity Fair that he and Greene were acting as an “advance team” for Trump as the hold events at which the far-right lawmakers promote 2020-election lies and attack the former president’s critics.
The Justice Department is investigating the Florida Republican for possible violations of federal sex trafficking laws and an associate who could implicate him — in improper relations with a 17-year-old girl in 2019 —pleaded guilty after making a deal with the feds.
Gaetz’s reputed wingman, a Florida tax collector named Joel Greenberg, pled guilty to federal charges of sex trafficking of a 17-year-old — and Greenberg reportedly claims Gaetz had sex with that 17-year-old.
Dr. Benjamin Teitelbaum, an assistant professor of international affairs at the University of Colorado Boulder and expert on white nationalism, credited Trump with the ideological innovation of combining social conservatism, nationalism, borders and xenophobia with more left-leaning economic politics, or an anti-Libertarian strain of Republicanism, plus the alt-right neo-fascism displayed in Charlottesville.
Essentially, Teitelbaum said the “MAGA movement” includes remnants of the Tea Party, newly-recruited Trump supporters, and an array of militant alt-right activists, as well as people that could be classified among the lunatic fringe — and that is the audience to which Gaetz and Greene are appealing.