Matt Gaetz Spent 4 Years Sucking Up to Trump — and Trump Just Abandoned Him

Trump hasn’t said a word about the Justice Department's investigation into one of his fiercest defenders.
US President Donald J. Trump and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz attend a "Keep America Great Rally" at BB&T Center on November 26, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida (mpi04/MediaPunch​)
US President Donald J. Trump and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz attend a "Keep America Great Rally" at BB&T Center on November 26, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida.mpi04/MediaPunch

Rep. Matt Gaetz spent four years fashioning himself into one of former President Donald Trump’s top allies in Congress. But like so many others who’ve done Trump a solid, he’s been left holding the bag.

As Gaetz faces an apparent Justice Department investigation into his alleged relationship two years ago with a girl who was reportedly believed to be 17 at the time—Gaetz denies she was under 18—the Trump family and inner circle have stayed silent on the allegations against Gaetz, Politico reported Tuesday


“The reason you haven't seen people in MAGA world defending Gaetz is less about him being unpopular, which he is in a lot of circles, and more about the fact that he hasn't done a single thing to make people comfortable to defend him,” a person described as a “Trump confidant” told Politico. 

“Not a lot of people are surprised” by the allegations against Gaetz, another person involved with Trump’s post-presidency told Politico. 

Trump himself has been “closely monitoring” the Gaetz situation, the Daily Beast reported last week, but he was reportedly advised by “multiple people” close to him not to weigh in, and apparently he’s listened to that advice. 

The ex-president has released a flurry of statements in recent days about a wide range of topics: encouraging the boycotting of corporations that have criticized Georgia’s new Trump-approved voter suppression laws, slamming the New York Times for the umpteenth time, and wishing a happy Easter to everyone including “the Radical Left CRAZIES who rigged our Presidential Election, and want to destroy our Country!” 

On the subject of Gaetz’s numerous legal and political problems, however, Trump has stayed quiet. To be fair, the three-term Florida congressman has very few friends to speak of overall right now. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan are the only members of Congress who’ve come to his defense so far.


But Trump’s silence on the purported allegations against Gaetz has to sting, considering that during Trump’s first impeachment trial, Gaetz emerged as one of his most vocal defenders. Gaetz also backed Trump’s bid to overturn the results of the election, and during the second impeachment trial, following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, Gaetz even offered to resign from Congress in order to defend the president. 

Gaetz’s relationship with Trump has gone beyond politics: He proposed to his girlfriend, Ginger Luckey, at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach during a New Year’s celebration in 2020.

Gaetz’s appreciation of Trump appears to have been at least somewhat genuine, as Rep. Katie Hill, a California Democrat who became friends with Gaetz during her short tenure in Congress, wrote in a Vanity Fair piece Monday.

“Well, you gotta give the fans on Fox what they want, but I do love Donald Trump,” Hill recalled Gaetz telling her. “I don’t think I want to be in Congress after he’s done as president.”

For now, however, Gaetz has bigger problems than how to stay in Trump’s good graces. On Monday, former Gaetz aide Nathan Nelson held a press conference and said officials from the FBI visited him at his home last week after the New York Times broke the story of the apparent probe into Gaetz. (The Justice Department has not confirmed the existence of the investigation, though Gaetz has repeatedly said he’s being investigated and Nelson appeared to confirm that Monday.)

And the former Air Force intelligence officer Gaetz accused of trying to extort his father to fund a $25 million operation to rescue a believed-to-be-dead FBI agent in Iran in exchange for good press for the younger Gaetz, went on CNN Monday to deny the Gaetz’s family’s claims of extortion. “There were no threats,” Bob Kent told CNN. “There were no demands.”

Gaetz, for his part, has continued to insist he’s innocent, defending himself as a “generous partner” who did nothing illegal. The Justice Department has stayed silent on the nature of the investigation. 

On Monday, Gaetz wrote that he was “absolutely not resigning” from Congress and blamed the investigation on new Attorney General Merrick Garland in an op-ed for the right-wing Washington Examiner. The investigation was confirmed to have been started during Trump’s presidency and Bill Barr’s tenure as attorney general. 

“You’ll see more ‘drip, drip, drip’ of leaks into the media from the corrupt Justice Department and others,” Gaetz wrote. “When you do, ask yourself why. They aren’t coming for me — they are coming for you. I’m just in the way.”