Because the Republican Party has ceased being a functioning political party, and has instead become a leader-less group of con artists who are in over their heads and unsure of what to do with themselves, the GOP has missed its opportunity to score political points with voters by promptly ousting Matt Gaetz.
Instead the Republicans have been predictably meek when it comes to the Gaetz scandal. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed to remove Gaetz from committees if he’s convicted, and when that went over poorly, McCarthy vowed to remove Gaetz from committees if he’s indicted. That was still a stunningly weak response, given the seriousness of the scandal. On the other hand, almost no House Republicans are defending Gaetz either, with isolated exceptions like Jim Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene. In other words, the GOP has mostly been trying to avoid being seen as pro-Gaetz or anti-Gaetz.
But now the House Republicans are beginning to tip their hand that they know Matt Gaetz is toast. They’re now letting it be known that if Gaetz is indicted for having sex with an underage girl, they’ll collectively call for his resignation. This would have the effect of ousting him, because if he refused to resign at that point, he’d be expelled with a two-thirds majority.
If the House Republicans thought the Matt Gaetz scandal was going to blow over and be forgotten, and that nothing was going to come of it from a legal standpoint, they wouldn’t have felt compelled to publicly lay out the conditions under which they’ll oust him. The Republicans are clearly preparing for the worst when it comes to Gaetz.
But if House Republicans think that making this statement somehow puts them in a proactive position to survive the Gaetz scandal, they’re sorely mistaken. House Democrats are now letting it be known that they intend to hold an Ethics Committee probe into allegations that Gaetz showed nude pictures of women he’d slept with to other House members on the House floor.
The Democrats can move forward with this ethics probe without having to wait for the Feds to criminally indict him on the more serious aspects of the Gaetz scandal. It’ll have the effect of making House Republicans look bad for not yet having called for Gaetz’s resignation. It’ll also make things highly uncomfortable for the specific House Republicans who were shown these photos by Gaetz. If they come clean about it, they’ll be asked why they didn’t speak up sooner. If they lie about being the ones who saw the photos, they risk getting caught lying, which would then result in Ethics Committee problems of their own.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report