U.S. Sen. Rick Scott was never an ally of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz when they both worked in state government.
But now, with Gaetz facing scrutiny from the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for charges potentially related to sex trafficking, Scott avoided pronouncement of guilt or innocence, and would not say Gaetz should resign.
“Well, these are serious allegations. I think the most important thing before anything happens is, let’s get the facts out. And then, you know, you know, if anybody’s done anything wrong, then we can decide what to do,” Scott said during a Tuesday interview with Washington Post Power Up anchor Jacqueline Alemany.
Scott, who had blasted an Gaetzian attack on the character of former President Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen as “disgusting” in 2019, went bland when asked about his working relationship with the embattled Congressman.
“He was in the House when I was Governor,” Scott said. “So there’s a variety of bills that he worked on. You do so many bills as Governor you can’t remember who sponsored all of them. Because I think there were about 2,000 bills a year, I’m trying to remember how many.”
“So I’ve worked with him there. Since I’ve been up here, you know, most of my work has been in the Senate.”
Scott also addressed Gaetz facing potential charges or even being guilty, again stressing the necessity for investigation.
“Well, I think the most important thing is get the facts out. We’ll see what happens when the facts come out,” Scott related.
Indeed, the facts are poised to come out soon enough, if reports of the multilevel federal investigation into Gaetz are reliable.
Though the Justice Department has not charged Gaetz with any crimes, a House Ethics Committee investigation could lead to censure or expulsion for Gaetz down the road. That probe will cover a lot of ground.
“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,” a statement from the Ethics Committee declared.
Scott’s noncommittal public stance on Gaetz is arguably the best attempt by any Florida Republican to grapple with the politically toxic host of issues in play here.
Gov. Ron DeSantis shirked a reporter’s question before he could even finish it Monday. And former President Donald Trump has issued a couple of circular statements that serve, at best, as conditional defenses of Gaetz.