As the tempest swirls around embattled U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, his Republican colleagues in Congress have been slow to call for his resignation, but Thursday night brought the first such demand.
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a GOP Congressman from Illinois, tweeted that Gaetz “needs to resign.”
Gaetz is reportedly under a Justice Department probe related to sex-trafficking allegations, but he has not been charged with a crime and he denies any wrongdoing,
Kinzinger and Gaetz were not aligned before the current scandal, but his public call could possibly embolden other congressional Republicans to use the weekend as a way to distance themselves from the Panhandle Republican.
Kinzinger, as the Associated Press reported, had already established an oppositional posture toward Gaetz and others on the right flank of the party. He formed the Country 1st PAC in the wake of the Jan. 6 riots in the Capitol, and told the Washington Post that Gaetz was at the top of the list of potential targets.
“I mean, look, all you have to do is see people like, of course, Marjorie Taylor Greene. You look at people like Matt Gaetz, who know better. I think neither of them believe the stuff they ascribe to. They just want fame,” Kinzinger said, before conceding the realpolitik of a primary challenge.
“And so, then you have to look at all that stuff and say, okay, can they (be) defeated? Who are opponents that can actually run against them? And I don’t want to engage in races and lose because it’s a bad narrative, too, but I want to give support to people on local levels even, people running for mayor, state reps, et cetera, and just simply say this: Like, I don’t care what you believe as long as you believe it, it be pro-life, pro-choice, pro-gun, anti-gun, right? We’ve gotten into too many, you have to be this or this. I just want you to tell the American people the truth, and I want you to not peddle in conspiracies and use some optimism occasionally. That’s a pretty low bar, but it’s a low bar that eliminates a lot of people.”
Kinzinger’s call comes as Gaetz seems to be shedding staff. Legislative Director Devin Murphy left Thursday night. Communications Director Luke Ball resigned days before.
However, the Congressman continues to make public appearances, including a planned speaking engagement Friday evening at Trump National Doral.
Gaetz is slated to be the keynote speaker at the Women for America First’s Save America Summit’s “BBQ, Boots & Bluegrass” event.
Women for America First, described by the Associated Press as a “pro-Trump nonprofit group,” is best known for the lengths it went to to object to the results of the 2020 presidential election. They organized a rally in Washington on Jan. 6 that preceded the violence at the Capitol.
Gaetz will not be the only Florida Congressman on hand this weekend. Also slated to speak are U.S. Reps. Kat Cammack and Byron Donalds, both Florida Republican representatives, and state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a Republican candidate for Congress, along with the aforementioned Georgia Congresswoman, Taylor Greene.