Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz earned some cheers and jeers from other lawmakers on Wednesday for suggesting Antifa was involved in the tragic violence at the U.S. Capitol and defending President Donald Trump’s right to challenge the election results.
The Panhandle Republican, speaking on the House floor after the chaos at the Capitol had subsided, began by pointing out that lawmakers, despite ideological differences, care about each other, and that “we don’t want bad things to happen to each other.”
“I’m sure there are plenty of folks over there who don’t like me too much,” said Gaetz, gesturing toward the Democrats, “and I’m sure there a few of you that I don’t care for too much. But if anybody had been hurt today, it would have been even more of a catastrophe than we already saw.”
Then Gaetz cut to the heart of matter.
“This morning, President Trump explicitly called for demonstrations and protests to be peaceful,” said Gaetz.
After some Democrats grumbled, Gaetz added, “You can moan and groan, but he was far more explicit about his calls for peace than some of the BLM and left-wing rioters were this summer when we saw violence sweep across this nation.”
Democrats jeered again, yet Republicans applauded.
Gaetz then reminded the Democrats that GOP lawmakers had gathered Wednesday hash out complaints about the presidential election – to debate, offer an objection and “follow a process that is expressly contemplated in our Constitution.”
“For doing that, we got called a bunch of seditious traitors,” Gaetz said.
“Now, not since 1985 has a Republican president been sworn in absent some Democratic effort to object to the electors. But when we do it, it is the new violation of all norms.’
“When those things are said,” he added to more moaning, “people get angry.”
Yet Gaetz gave Democrats more occasions to fuss.
He added that America was not among those countries where political violence may be “necessary,” and condemned the goons who had vandalized the homes of lawmakers like Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But Gaetz then pointed out a Washington Times report that said a company with facial-recognition software had offered “compelling evidence” that some rioters were Antifa members “masquerading as Trump supporters.”
More Democratic grumbling followed.
Continuing, Gaetz said, “We should seek to build America up, not tear her down, and destroy her. And I’m sure glad that for at least one day, I didn’t hear my Democrat colleagues calling for defund the police.”
That time, Republicans applauded robustly, with a few offering a standing ovation.
“I appreciate all the talk of coming together,” Gaetz added, “but let us not pretend that our colleagues on the left have been free of some anti-democratic impulses.”
He referred to leftists’ calls for Republicans who had supported clarifying the election results, via a legal process, to be thrown out of Congress or jailed.
Such arguments anger people as well, he said, adding that no contest of any kind can be “deemed fair” if people use different rules.
He then attacked Democrats for pressuring election officials and other election irregularities, and argued that in 2016, after Democrats realized they could defeat Trump at the ballot box, they turned to impeachment and then “ran to the mailbox.”
Gaetz said the 2020 election had an “unprecedented amount” of votes that could not be authenticated.
In addition to ensuring the American people saw the full picture, Gaetz concluded, “We should vindicate the rights of states … and we should reject these electors.”