Politics

‘Not What Leaders Do’: Matt Gaetz Reacts To Meeting With Steve Scalise

Screenshot via Fox News

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz spoke with Fox News host and Daily Caller co-founder Tucker Carlson about his Wednesday evening meeting with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise over leaked comments in which Scalise and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Gaetz was potentially inciting violence.

Gaetz and Carlson agreed that the comments were an example of Republicans not standing up for their constituents. Scalise said in the leaked phone call that Gaetz’s comments were “potentially illegal.” Carlson has been harshly critical of McCarthy and GOP leadership, repeatedly comparing the top House Republican to MSNBC staffers. McCarthy also said in the Jan. 10, 2021 phone call that he would push then-President Donald Trump to resign in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

“You had a group of people who were going to try to join with Democrats to impeach President Trump, and that is precisely what has played out,” Gaetz said.

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“The crazy thing about this, Tucker, is that it was all done for the sake of protecting Liz Cheney. I mean, at the time I was protecting President Trump from impeachment and Kevin McCarthy was protecting Liz Cheney from criticism,” he continued. “I was upfront about the fact that I was going to politically oppose Liz Cheney. I went to Wyoming; I made my case there. This notion that you can have these sniveling calls and try to foment action against Republicans by big tech and the DOJ is not fitting of leadership.”

“You can represent Republican voters if you’re personally annoyed with Trump,” Carlson responded. “You cannot represent Republican leaders if you are calling on big tech to censor voices who criticize you, and if you are accusing people who criticize you of committing an illegal act of violence, as Steve Scalise did. Now you saw Steve Scalise today. Did he apologize for that?”

Scalise told reporters on Wednesday night that he was “sorry that those comments caused [Gaetz] problems.” Scalise added that he was told that some members of Congress were receiving death threats in the aftermath of the riot, and that he was sensitive to that. Scalise was shot by a left-wing terrorist and Bernie Sanders presidential campaign volunteer in 2017. (RELATED: Can Kevin McCarthy Overcome His Very Bad Week?)

Gaetz seemed to suggest the apology was unsatisfactory.

“If you accuse someone of breaking the law, you have to say what law you think they broke and you have to present what evidence you think you have. And if there is no evidence, you need to acknowledge that. And if not, you are like maintaining this fiction for the sake of your own pride, and that’s not what leaders do,” Gaetz said.

Scalise further explained that he still hasn’t “been able to get all the details of what those accusations were, but I was being told things, and I know members were getting death threats.”

“There were a lot of things that we were being told,” he said, according to Politico. “Some turned out to be accurate, some not. In his case, we haven’t gotten the details of the things that were all said about him. But, you know, clearly those things didn’t happen, because he was never charged with anything related to it.”