The Speaker of the House has weighed in on the controversy surrounding one of the members of that chamber’s minority party.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called on the House Ethics Committee to open an investigation of Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) after the news of the Department of Justice investigation into the Florida legislator’s alleged sex scandal with an under-aged girl became public this week.
Pelosi’s counterpart on the Republican side, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), had earlier announced that he would strip Gaetz of his committee assignments if he was found to be guilty but was waiting for the final results of the DOJ inquiry before taking any action.
Right now, Matt Gaetz says that it’s not true and we don’t have any information. So let’s get all the information,” McCarthy told Fox News when asked whether the lawmaker should be booted of the House Judiciary Committee.
From Pelosi’s point of view, there is no reason to wait until the Justice Department completes its probe to have the House Ethics Committee begin its own investigation into the Florida representative’s allegedly felonious conduct, particularly with “the integrity of the Congress” at stake.
“If, in fact, these allegations are true, of course being removed from the Judiciary Committee is the least that could be done,” Pelosi said on a phone call with reporters. “But again, I think from what we’ve heard so far, this would be a matter for the Ethics Committee.”
In addition to potential charges of statutory rape if Gaetz did have sexual relations with a 17-year-old, the congressman also faces charges of violating sex trafficking laws by traveling across state lines with the minor that would make the alleged action a federal crime.
Gaetz has been taking every opportunity to deny the accusations against him, taking to the airwaves of Fox News for an interview with Tucker Carlson that was even too much for the right-wing commentator who called it “one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted” after Gaetz claimed that the allegations were related to an extortion attempt that the FBI asked his father to wear a wire to help investigate.
He also tried to drag Carlson himself into the controversy by reminding him of a dinner he and his date of unspecified age had with the Fox host and his wife a couple of years ago.
While few Republicans — other than the equally reprehensible Representatives Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) — have been leaping to Gaetz’s defense, mirroring Minority Leader McCarthy’s wait-and-see attitude, the third highest-ranking Democrat in the House, Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC), echoed Speaker Pelosi’s call for the proverbial Florida man to be investigated by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics which refers cases to the Ethics Committee.
“Someone needs to get to the bottom of all of this,” Clyburn said yesterday in an interview on CNN.
It sounds like everybody but Matt Gaetz has the same objective.
Original reporting by Mike Lillis at The Hill.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.