Tiger Beat’s gossip sheet email thingie leads with:
JOURNOS AT THE GAETZ: It was all to be expected that when Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) strolled into the Capitol yesterday evening, he would be met by a horde of questions. CNN’s Ryan Noble got the first question in about the allegations against him just as Gaetz reached the magnetometers. There was a moment of silence before the Florida Republican asked: “Oh, are you Ryan?”
When Ryan responded in the affirmative, Gaetz — almost as if he had planned on it — launched into a whataboutism, citing an attempt by conservative group Project Veritas to undercut CNN’s credibility, saying he has “great comments” on what was exposed in an edited video, while bobbing and weaving around questions about the Justice Department’s sex trafficking probe.
“That doesn’t have anything to do with the allegations against you, sir. Congressman, do you not deny the allegations against you?” Noble responded, which Gaetz ignored as he walked on the House floor.
And that’s why reporters need thick skins and the jaws of bulldogs. But I interrupted.
Gaetz made no attempt to hide or run as he exited, either (as is often the case when a member is consumed in scandal), though he did speed walk out as a flock of roughly seven reporters, including your Huddle host, trailed him down the Capitol steps…
…Gaetz twice cited The Washington Examiner Op-Ed that he previously authored and again tried to shift away from the questions and peck at CNN’s Manu Raju over the Project Veritas video.
A staffer was waiting for him with a running car, holding the back seat car door open, which he quickly slipped inside to depart the Capitol…
We wonder if it was the campaign van, above.
…The reporters then turned to head back inside, prompting one Dem House member to ask what all the commotion was about. “Ahh, of course,” he said, when I informed him of who we were chasing.
Gaetz’s appearance on Capitol Hill — the first since the reports and allegations against him emerged during the House recess — came after Mel and your Huddle host spent the day asking House Republicans about Gaetz’s political future and how a potential indictment would change their stance. Many did not want to touch on this topic with a 10-foot pole — erm, maybe add a few more zero’s onto that.
The general response? Ducking and dodging: One GOP lawmaker when asked a question about Gaetz, replied: “Who?”
This is what I was expecting! Wasn’t he the covfefe boy?
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said bluntly that he didn’t “want to be drawn into talking about that.” Another pretended they couldn’t hear or see Mel when she approached him with a question about Gaetz. And one GOP member laughed when your Huddle host said I have a fun ol’ Gaetz question for you, responding: “Those aren’t words I thought I’d hear together.”
Why would they leave those comments unattributed? That doesn’t make any sense to me, other than these sources are often used for Access Journalism.
Their response emphasized how few Republicans are racing to defend Gaetz, nor are they — apart from Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) — calling for him to resign. (Kinzinger wouldn’t comment on it anymore, instead saying: “I made the statement that will stand”). Instead, the majority of GOP lawmakers have taken the position that the legal process should run its course. Here’s the view from the top:
-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who called the accusations “serious” last week, declined to wade into theoreticals about the possibility of a Gaetz indictment. “These are hypotheticals,” he told moi in the hallways. “We will deal with everything as they come.”
-House Minority Whip GOP Steve Scalise (R-La.) told Mel yesterday he needs to see “what the facts are” and pointed out there hasn’t “been any formal DOJ action yet,” but added that “obviously we’re watching it close” and “we’ve been very consistent that if somebody is indicted that then they will be removed from their committees.”
It’s good to know that it happens so often in the GOP that they have a standing policy to remove indicted members. Be Prepared!