U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz may have few defenders, but it appears one person willing to stick up for him is the former President of the United States.
Donald Trump issued a statement Monday night defending the embattled Panhandle Republican fromt a CNN report that Gaetz was refused a meeting with Trump this weekend.
“Fake News CNN, relying on all anonymous sources, meaning they probably made the whole thing up, wrote a very dishonest story claiming Congressman Matt Gaetz asked for a meeting with me at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida, and was denied. This is completely false,” wrote Trump in a statement.
The President went on to opine about U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, making the argument that the California Democrat should be removed from the House Intelligence Committee, a seeming distraction from the reported investigation Gaetz is facing from the Justice Department.
Despite the obvious deflection from the topic of the one-paragraph statement, the former President’s statement represents a for-the-record vindication of sorts.
Trump’s statement accords with those made by associates like senior adviser Jason Miller, who earlier Monday called for a “full retraction” of the story.
Reporter Gabby Orr framed the story as a “scoop.”
“Trump aides recently intervened to stop a Gaetz-Trump meeting at Mar-a-Lago, signaling the embattled congressman is more isolated from Trump World than ever,” read a promotional tweet Monday.
Gaetz decried the “total lie.”
“I am on a pre-planned vacation with my fiancée. I was welcomed at Trump Doral days ago. No such meeting was denied nor sought. Gabby, ‘unnamed sources’ lied. When can we expect a retraction,” Gaetz asserted.
CNN incorporated denials backing up the Gaetz-Trump narrative, but the story is still up without retraction or significant walkback as of Monday evening.
Trump’s ultimate dispensation toward Gaetz may not matter in the wake of a House Ethics Investigation and the Justice Department probe. The verbiage of the House inquiry speaks to the dizzying array of issues to be considered.
“The Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Matt Gaetz may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct,” the statement from the committee declared.
However, for what it’s worth, Trump offered a careful defense of Gaetz last week, via prepared statement.
“Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon. It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him,” Trump asserted in a statement released to the media.