House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sparked the ire of the internet after saying that GOP leaders will remove Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) from his committee assignments if he’s found to be guilty of sex trafficking, a case currently under investigation by the Justice Department.
But McCarthy suggested Gaetz, one of most vocal supporters of former President Trump, would remain on those panels, which include the powerful Judiciary Committee, during the course of the DOJ’s investigation.
“Those are serious implications. If it comes out to be true, yes, we would remove him if that’s the case,” McCarthy told Fox News on Wednesday. “But right now Matt Gaetz says that it’s not true and we don’t have any information. So let’s get all the information.”
The Justice Department is investigating allegations that Gaetz engaged in a sexual relationship with an underaged girl and paid for her to travel with him across state lines.
The probe, which began under the Trump administration, includes an examination of allegations that Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws by traveling with the girl across state lines. The investigation was initially reported by The New York Times.
The news comes as Republicans are ramping up the pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders to strip Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) of his seat on the Intelligence Committee. Swalwell, beginning in 2012, had been targeted by a women suspected of being a Chinese spy, an incident first reported by Axios in December.
An FBI investigation cleared Swalwell of any wrongdoing, and the California Democrat cut ties with the woman immediately after the agency briefed him and congressional leaders of both parties in 2015.
McCarthy on Wednesday said he has not been briefed by the DOJ on the Gaetz case, nor has he talked to Gaetz personally since the Times story broke.
Twitter users were quick to call the Republican leader’s hypocrisy on the case.
Watch the interview and some of the responses below.
"I have no idea whatsoever why he would vote against that" — McCarthy on Gaetz being only Republican to vote against an anti-sex trafficking bill in 2017 pic.twitter.com/h8gdou1kl4
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 31, 2021
"If it comes out to be true, we would remove him"
This is what those in-the-know refer to as "underbussing."
McCarthy is underbussing the f**k out of Gaetz.
— NotATweeter16 (@NotATweeter16) March 31, 2021
It's utterly baffling that someone actually needs to confirm that if someone else is a sex trafficker they'll be removed from committees.
How have we reached a point where that even needs to be said and isn't just automatic?
— Steve Jones (@StephenMTJones) March 31, 2021
Why is Kevin laughing???!!
— Jo (@JoJoFromJerz) March 31, 2021
Well, if its true, he'll be in federal prison?
— ᴀʀᴛ 🇺🇸 (@__Arthur_Dent__) March 31, 2021
So Al Franken was forced to resign from congress for a staged picture of him with his hand on a woman’s breast, but Gaetz is fine to stay while be investigated for sex trafficking? The hypocrisy is fucking appalling!!
— msmilies (@msmiles13) March 31, 2021
I relevant point right now isn't whether Matt Gaetz is found guilty, it is that the DOJ is investigating him.
For that reason alone, Gaetz needs to be removed from the Judiciary Committee until that investigation is over. And then remain off the Committee if he is charged.
— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@BettyBowers) March 31, 2021
Exactly this. GQP hypocrisy once again. Yeah you should have due process to convict & remove from Congress, but accusations pertinent to his committee role is exactly the same situation as Swalwell and GQP have NO problems calling for his removal from committees on accusations.
— GeeEmm (@Gavin1962) March 31, 2021
— Clinically Evil (@ClinicallyEvil) March 31, 2021