Matt Gaetz blames antifa, Democrats’ rhetoric for Capitol attack; defends Donald Trump
Matt Gaetz angrily defends Donald Trump on the House floor.

Matt Gaetz
Rioters 'masquerading as Trump supporters,' Gaetz said.

In a post-riot debate in which most Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives dialed back rhetoric regarding the challenge to Joe Biden‘s election, Republican Matt Gaetz went another way.

In a late-night, fiery defense of President Donald Trump and condemnation of the 2020 presidential election, the Fort Walton Beach Congressman blamed Democrats’ rhetoric and antifa for the attack on the U.S. Capitol. And he denounced the presidential election as rife with systematic fraud.

Gaetz, long one of Trump’s most ardent defenders, was one of the few Republicans who explicitly defended him Wednesday night. After the riots had changed how most were feeling, most other Republicans who spoke in the evening debate, even those objecting to Biden’s victory, took measured approaches, calling for unity and understanding of one another’s positions.

Gaetz came sounding angry at Democrats, not rioters.

“We should come to build America up,” he said. “Not tear her down and destroy her, and I sure am glad that at least for one day, I didn’t hear my Democrat colleagues calling to defund the police.”

He even disavowed Trump of any blame for the storming of the Capitol, which almost everyone else attributed to people who supported Trump and were angry because they believed his claims that the election was stolen. They had headed to the Capitol after hearing Trump rail against the election and Democrats and after he told them to go there, during a morning rally near the White House.

Nope, Gaetz contended. People were angry because Democrats’ rhetoric fired them up, Gaetz suggested. And he suggested that members of the shadowy, left-wing, anti-fascist group antifa may have led the charge.

“This morning, President Trump explicitly called for demonstrations and protests to be peaceful. He was far more — you can moan and groan — but he was far more explicit about his calls for peace than some of the BLM and left-wing rioters were this summer when we saw violence sweep across this nation,” Gaetz said.

“Now we came here today to debate, to follow regular order to, to offer an objection, to follow a process that is expressly contemplated in our Constitution. And for doing that, we’ve been called a bunch of seditious traitors. … And when those things are said, people get angry,” Gaetz said.

And the antifa?

“I don’t know if the reports are true, but the Washington Times has just reported some pretty compelling evidence from a facial-recognition company showing that some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters. They were masquerading as Trump supporters. And in fact, they were members of the violent terrorist group, antifa,” Gaetz said.

(The Washington Times later removed the story from its website. The facial recognition company, XRVision, told The Hill it had demanded the article be taken down because it was false.)

The position of the Panhandle Congressman was ultimately not much of a surprise as Gaetz has been one of the Trump’s most ardent defenders in the House. He has developed a national reputation for his support of the President and tied to the base movement.

Gaetz rose to object to the seating of electors from Arizona. The matter was voted down overwhelmingly in the House as scores of Republicans joined all Democrats in voting against it. The question also lost in the in the Senate, where only six Republicans voted to object. The final vote in the House was 121-303. All of the votes in favor of the challenge came from Republicans.

“States that do not run clean elections should be stripped of their electors,” Gaetz said. “This fraud was systemic. It was repeated. It was the same system, and I dare say it was effective.”

Gaetz ultimately was one of 12 Republican members from Florida who voted against certifying slates of electors from Arizona or Pennsylvania. More Republicans nationwide voted against the Pennsylvania slate, with 138  voting yes to the objection and 282 voting no. No senators joined in challenges for any other states.

The entire challenge proved ultimately in vain to any who thought it might overturn Biden’s defeat of Trump. Every slate of electors ultimately was certified for a tally of 306 to 232 votes.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


  • Sonja Fitch

    January 7, 2021 at 3:50 am

    Gaetz stfu. You Gaetz are a damn paranoid delusional racist sexist liar! Get out Gaetz. You a Fing traitor ! Get out Gaetz! You Gaetz are criminality negligent! You Gaetz killed 4 Americans! Get out Gaetz!

  • Adam Tebrugge

    January 7, 2021 at 6:59 am

    Scott, why do you report his comments uncritically as if they had a grain of truth?

  • tjb

    January 7, 2021 at 8:44 am

    Another stupid comment from Matt Gaetz.”They were masquerading as Trump supporters. And in fact, they were members of the violent terrorist group, antifa”. Matt, We all know it was not Antifa, but the lizard people from Mars. Matt stop the BS and lies.

  • Sonja Fitch

    January 7, 2021 at 9:06 am

    Tjb. Yep I forgot ! Fucking lizard king is Gaetz only answer!

  • Ocean Joe

    January 7, 2021 at 9:44 am

    Mr. Gaetz, you are out of touch with your district you cant tell the difference between redneck Trump supporters and hippie antifas.

    We are not the Germans of the 1940’s who fell for this kind of misdirection when the Reichstag burned.

  • DisplacedCTYankee

    January 7, 2021 at 10:53 am

    Can the Floriduh panhandle puleeeeze just secede and join Alabammy?

  • Glenn Reihing

    January 7, 2021 at 10:59 am

    Here is an attempt for the tail wagging the dog.

    They first decry the election was rigged despite the fact that 60 court cases have said that their evidence is without merit. Yet they continue to stir the pot.

    Then as reported by The Washington Post two days ago, there is an uptick on far-right social media pages about causing protests in the Capitol along with advice on how to bring in weapons.

    Then the President comes out and spews all kinds of hatred toward the press and lies about the election. People knock over press cameras and push down other equipment while their only transgression is to be there to film the President’s speech.

    Now the members of Congress, without evidence other than to say that it was reported in the right-wing publication that there were infiltrators in the crowd that were stirring things up. I remember the Nazis doing the same tactic during 1939.

    We all know what Gaetz is. A right-wing white supremacist who is trying to deflect blame from those who really deserve it.

    We should demand that he be expelled from Congress.

  • Emilio

    January 7, 2021 at 11:55 am

    You are the same shit like trump is all I have to say no brain

  • Tom mims

    January 7, 2021 at 11:57 am

    Stop calling them a mob, terrorists etc. and call them what they are, Republicans.

  • Paul Colombani

    January 7, 2021 at 11:57 am

    Gaetz is a buffoon and clearly should be condemned along with Trump for inciting yesterday’s madness. I hope his district boots him next election.

  • PeterH

    January 7, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    It’s hard to imagine the type of Florida residents who live in Matt Gaetz district! What is wrong with you that you vote for the incompetent ignorant leadership over and over?

  • Tom

    January 7, 2021 at 3:42 pm

    Hey, all the comments here are uniformly anti-Gaetz, so I want to create some balance here and say something positive about the man. He…he…he…hehehe, just kidding.

  • Linds

    January 7, 2021 at 11:36 pm

    Well we have a serious rival for him here in Missouri.

  • Douglas Thompson

    January 8, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    Outstanding use of the quote concerning “defunding the police” Silliest idea though “reimagining a protective neighborhood police” is a close second. Thanks for the giggles team Demo. Beyond comprehension. You / We could have never really been serious with that spoken thought, right?

Comments are closed.


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