- Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida was defiant in his attempt to remain in office during a Friday speech.
- Gaetz currently faces investigations by the US Department of Justice and the House Ethics Committee.
- “I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere,” he said.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida on Friday was defiant in his attempt to remain in office, brushing aside the damaging set of developments surrounding a federal sex trafficking investigation that has unfolded in the media over the course of nearly two weeks.
While attending the “Save America Summit,” part of a four-day conference at the Trump National Doral resort in Miami, Gaetz, who was billed as the keynote speaker for the event, said he was here to stay, according to The Daily Beast.
“This past week has been full of encouragement,” he told the group of attendees. “The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life, to wild conspiracy theories. I won’t be intimidated by a lying media, and I won’t be extorted by a former DOJ [Department of Justice] official and the crooks he is working with.”
He added: “The truth will prevail.”
Gaetz has denied that he paid women for sex – including, potentially, an underage girl – blaming the media for amplifying the allegations against him.
“I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere,” he said.
Women for America First, the group that organized the conference, advertised Gaetz’s appearance by calling him “a fearless leader in DC” who stood up for former President Donald Trump’s “America First Agenda.”
In his speech on Friday, Gaetz, who was one of Trump’s staunchest defenders in Congress, contended that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from the former president.
But even Gaetz wrapping himself around the Trump legacy could not curtail the swirl of controversies that awaited him outside the resort.
On Friday, the House Ethics Committee announced that they were opening a bipartisan investigation into allegations against Gaetz of sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, and the sharing of nude images on the House floor.
Trump was urged by advisors not to publicly back Gaetz until more was known about the allegations of sex with an underage girl, according to The Daily Beast.
When the former president issued a statement regarding Gaetz this week, he refuted a report that the congressman had asked for a blanket pardon.
“Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon,” Trump said in a statement. “It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him.”
Many Republicans and conservative media figures have been quiet about Gaetz in the wake of the allegations, especially after a widely panned March appearance on Fox’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that the host himself said was “one of the weirdest interviews” that he’s ever done.
According to The Daily Beast, out of 16 top Trump administration officials contacted by the publication, none would back Gaetz on the record.