Trump reportedly had to be talked out of defending Matt Gaetz because the allegations against him were so serious
- Trump had to be talked out of defending Gaetz amid a sex-trafficking scandal, NYT's Maggie Haberman said.
- Trump was told to stand down because the allegations were so serious, Haberman told CNN.
- After more than a week of silence, Trump released a two-sentence statement defending Gaetz.
That's according to The New York Times' Maggie Haberman, who on Thursday told CNN's "New Day" that Trump had really wanted to defend the GOP lawmaker, but that he was told to stand down because the allegations against Gaetz were so serious."His first impulse was that he wanted to defend Gaetz, you know, 'He's one of our people,'" Haberman said. "Several of his advisors had told him that's a very bad idea, that the nature of what Gaetz is being investigated for is so serious that this is not something that former President Trump should be out there on a limb" for.
Another Trump confidant echoed that assessment, telling Politico, "The reason you haven't seen people in MAGA world defending Gaetz is less about him being unpopular, which he is in a lot of circles, and more about the fact that he hasn't done a single thing to make people comfortable to defend him."The Daily Beast reported on Friday that Trump had stayed quiet on the controversy on the advice of his lawyers. One source told the
The lawmaker himself made the same claim, saying that the investigation is part of a convoluted, multimillion dollar extortion scheme against his family. However, the Justice Department's investigation into Gaetz kicked off late last summer and had been well underway by the time Gaetz said the alleged extortion plot started, in early March.That doesn't necessarily mean his claims are untrue, but it does mean it's unlikely the department's probe was launched as part of any such scheme. Trump, for his part, released his first public statement about the Gaetz controversy on Wednesday. The statement came after The Times reported that Gaetz had asked Trump, near the end of his presidency, for preemptive pardons for himself and his allies.
Gaetz's office denied the reporting, and Trump's statement also said the GOP lawmaker "never" asked for a pardon, adding that "it must be remembered" Gaetz denied the allegations against him.
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