Scandal-ridden Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said he isn’t resigning from Congress, but his “political brethren” in Florida “are already jockeying to take his seat,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Justice Department is reportedly investigating payments Gaetz and an indicted Florida politician, former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, made to women allegedly recruited online for sex. The investigation is also looking into whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
While Gaetz told the Journal he has no plans to step down, former Republican Rep. David Jolly of Florida thinks he may not have any other options. “These scandals hit a certain point where there’s no escape,” Jolly, who is no longer a member of the GOP, told the Journal, noting that Florida’s politicians are “assuming” Gaetz’s career is finished. “We’ve clearly hit that point for Matt in politics.”
Former President Donald Trump may also be in that camp, at least for now. Gaetz is a fervent Trump ally, but Trump’s advisers have told him to stay out of the situation, two people familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast. Trump has reportedly said privately that things seem “really bad” for Gaetz, but he has also reportedly at least entertained the possibility it’s a smear campaign. “For something like this, a ten-foot pole is not long enough,” Barry Bennett, a GOP operative who advised Trump during his 2016 campaign, told The Daily Beast. “The former president should stay as far away from this as possible.”