It appears that there’s trouble in paradise for the President and his best pal, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). While the Florida Republican has spent the majority of the year shamelessly debasing himself in defense of the President and his efforts to fight impeachment, it turns out Trump’s self-inflicted Iran crisis was a dealbreaker for Gaetz.
In a stunning betrayal (in Trump’s eyes, anyway), Gaetz voted in favor of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) resolution under the War Powers Act to restrict Trump’s ability to wage war against Iran. His impassioned speech against Trump left House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) “very shocked.”
But Matt Gaetz didn’t just do the right thing for a change.
The House Republican who self-identifies as “Trump’s Ultimate Defender” is best known for pushing the #pizzagate conspiracy theory, storming a SCIF to order pizza (a theme?) and hanging out with the Proud Boys hate group when he’s not busy making an ass of himself in House Judiciary meetings. But on Friday he sent an email to every member of the House Republican caucus urging them to thumb their noses at the President and his mindless rush to war. Donald Trump, predictably, is absolutely furious.
The Washington Post reports:
Trump fiercely complained about Gaetz after aides informed Trump that his office had sent the email backing the resolution.
“The Trump administration was disappointed in the congressman’s vote and is hopeful that as the president’s foreign policy continues to unfold, he will reconsider his points of view,” Eric Ueland, the head of legislative affairs for the White House, said in an interview.
Not long ago, Donald Trump called Matt Gaetz “handsome and going places” at one of his rallies, but today he’s issuing sharp public disapprovals of him.
What did the President’s “loyal apprentice” write to all of his colleagues to earn the public ire of his most typically slavish kiss-ass admirer? The Post reports that this is the content of Gaetz’s email blast:
“Reclaiming Congressional power is the Constitutional conservative position!” Devin Murphy, Gaetz’s legislative director, wrote to all Republican offices around 11 a.m. Thursday, underlining the text, according to the email obtained by The Washington Post.
The message, arguing for Republicans to buck the president, ended: “We WILL be voting in favor of H. Con. Res. 83, and hope you will do the same!”
Ironically, the Florida man took his vote against Trump’s war with Iran as an opportunity to go onto Fox News with white supremacist cheerleader Tucker Carlson—who is also against blundering around the Middle East with America’s armed forces — to praise the President as “more anti-war than I am” after he took the irrevocable step of killing one of that country’s highest-ranking government officials.
Disturbingly, this is a sound strategy to advise a President who is otherwise impervious to advise from the entire federal government. The AP reports that Carlson’s anti-war fever is actually having a substantial tempering effect on the President and his thinking, meaning that the fate of world peace lies in the struggle between anti-war Carlson (8pm on FOX) and pro-war Hannity (9pm on FOX).
[Trump] told confidants in recent days that Carlson’s strong advocacy not to escalate the situation in Iran played a role in his decision-making, two White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Nevertheless, Donald Trump’s decision to commit an act of war against Iran from his Florida mansion and golf course, without consulting either Congress or allies, has led to the first public fissures in Republican unity that we have witnessed in a long time.
Utah’s Republican Senator Mike Lee blasted the Trump Administration for giving the “worst briefing” he’s ever seen on military matters, proceeding to excoriate the President’s rush to war and insinuations that debating policy would be unpatriotic to such a degree that Fox News cut away to avoid triggering its audience of fragile conservative viewers.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) told the Bangor Daily News that she’s working to make a group of Republicans to force witnesses to appear at President Trump’s forthcoming impeachment trial.
Now, Matt Gaetz is leading a break with the President which included another House Republican from Florida, Rep. Francis Rooney, who announced his retirement from Congress shortly after saying he might vote to impeach Trump (he didn’t).
It all adds up to a major break from the cult-level allegiance typically demonstrated at all times from congressional Republicans to their orange concealer covered “chosen one” on nearly every other issue, except for impeachment, war, and peace. But don’t expect it to last — Gaetz will undoubtedly be back in the president’s good graces faster than you can say “sir, have you been drinking tonight?”
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition