During a House committee hearing this week about the Steve Bannon criminal contempt referral, Matt Gaetz tried running his mouth rather loudly and obnoxiously, before Democrat Jamie Raskin shut him down in humiliating fashion. This has led some observers to ask why Gaetz is still allowed to even participate in House committees, given that he’s under federal criminal investigation for alleged crimes including underage sex trafficking.
First, keep in mind that House Democrats can’t actually expel Matt Gaetz from the House, because it would require a two-thirds vote. There won’t be enough House Republicans in favor of expulsion until at least after Gaetz is indicted. The one thing House Democrats could do with a simple majority would be to remove him from committees, which would shut him up on days like this one, but wouldn’t prevent him from running his mouth in general.
So why haven’t House Democrats removed Matt Gaetz from committees? After all, they did precisely that to Marjorie Taylor Greene. But she had to be silenced from committees, because she was using the spotlight to spew harmful antisemitic slurs and such; she had to be silenced for the common good.
In contrast Matt Gaetz is merely using his committee position to behave obnoxiously and run his mouth about incoherent conspiracy theories, which only serve to make his Republican Party look bad in the eyes of swing voters and moderate voters. In other words, every time Gaetz participates in a televised committee hearing, it’s free advertising for the Democrats.
With that in mind, why would the Democrats want to ban him from committees? Since they can’t expel him outright, and they’re stuck with him awhile longer, they might as well let him run his mouth during hearings in a way that harms the Republicans. It’s the job of the Republicans to crack down on Gaetz, and since they lack the guts to do it, they deserve to have to take the heat for him.
Once Matt Gaetz is indicted and arrested, at that point Donald Trump will release a statement claiming he’s never heard of Gaetz, and then House Republicans will probably be willing to provide enough votes to expel him (at which point Gaetz would likely “resign” in order to avoid the embarrassment of expulsion). But for now, Gaetz merely shifts mores swing voters to the Democrats in 2022 every time he opens his mouth.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report