"Firebrands don't retreat," Rep. Matt Gaetz told a sympathetic crowd Friday night in Florida, "especially when the battle for the soul of our country calls." The Florida congressman, who is under investigation for possible crimes including sex trafficking, reassured a small Women for America First event, the Guardian reports, that "the truth will prevail." Gaetz is a major supporter of former President Trump, and his rhetoric had a familiar tone; the "Save America Summit" was hosted by the Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami. Trump has mentioned Gaetz's troubles only once, to deny a news report that Gaetz had asked for a blanket pardon before the former president left office. "It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him," Trump's statement said. No charges have been brought against the congressman.
Gaetz's loud defense, in which he lashes out even at members of his party while casting himself as the real victim, is not helping the struggling Republican Party, a per CNN analysis. President Biden's approval ratings are high, and a poll found more Americans consider themselves Democrats now, or lean that way. But his strategy does reflect the engrained influence of Trump—he often uses the same wording as the former president—as Gaetz blames Democrats, the establishment, the news media, and the "deep state" for his problems. He tried to deflect again Saturday, issuing a statement attacking Georgia Democrats over the corporate response to their state's new voting law. The long statement, which misspelled the Democrats' names, also criticized Biden for his handling of the problems at the Mexican border, but made no mention of the investigations he faces. (Read more Matt Gaetz stories.)