Politics

Matt Gaetz Brags He Pulled Off Capitol Stunt by Himself, Like a Big Boy

Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz
Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz Photo via Florida House of Representatives
When was the last time you stormed your parents' bedroom in a fit of childish rage for not getting that thing you wanted? When you were a petulant little shit of a 6-year-old, maybe? So before diving into Rep. Matt Gaetz's recent shenanigans, it's worth noting he is 37 years old and, seemingly, a fully grown adult man.

Yesterday the congressman for Florida led a mob of fellow Republicans through a highly secure facility of the U.S. Capitol where Laura Cooper, the Pentagon's top official on Ukraine, was testifying in the impeachment inquiry. The probe revolves around accusations that President Donald Trump enlisted Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden — his political rival — and Biden's son Hunter in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the foreign country. Gaetz whined that, despite long-standing protocols, all members of Congress should be allowed to sit in on Cooper's deposition.

The debacle kicked off with a morning news conference where Gaetz protested what he and other Republican lawmakers believe to be a lack of transparency surrounding the closed-door depositions. Gaetz declared he and his colleagues were "going in there."
CNN reported that Gaetz and his gang of two dozen members of Congress barged into the secure room through three doors. Yelling ensued, and Gaetz's merry band of Republican lawmakers refused to leave. Cooper's deposition was delayed by five hours, but she ultimately gave her testimony.
The room Republicans breached, known as the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), is designed to protect against electronic surveillance and leaks of national security and military information. Smartphones aren't allowed inside SCIFs because their microphones and cameras can be hacked. But several news outlets have reported some members of the Gaetz-led group took their cell phones into the facility.

Only members of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees — those conducting the impeachment inquiry — were allowed in the secure area. Gaetz and others complained that all members of Congress should be included in the inquiry regardless of the committees on which they serve. Stupidly enough, more than a dozen of the legislators who went along with Gaetz's PR stunt serve on the impeachment-overseeing committees and were allowed to attend the hearing, the Washington Post reported.


Yesterday wasn't the first time Gaetz tried to crash an impeachment deposition. Last week, he was booted from a hearing with Fiona Hill, the president's former adviser on Russia.

His most recent caper came two days after Trump said during a Cabinet meeting that Republicans needed to "get tougher and fight" for him, his presidency, and the GOP. So far, Trump hasn't tweeted about yesterday's events, although he retweeted a couple of video clips from the news conference.

Bloomberg reported that Trump knew of the scheme beforehand and approved of it. Gaetz, meanwhile, bragged he pulled off the stunt all by himself, like a big boy. Either way, he's one of the president's most enthusiastic defenders, and he continues to show there isn't much he won't do for Trump.
Beyond committing the crime of smugness, Gaetz orchestrated a serious breach of national security, according to some experts. Mieke Eoyang, a former staff director on the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted, "I cannot emphasize enough how serious this is."

"In 'storming the SCIF' without observing the security protocols, Rep. Gaetz et al, endangered our national security & demonstrated they care more about a political stunt than protecting intelligence information," she wrote.
As of this morning, #ArrestMattGaetz is still trending on Twitter. 
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Alexi C. Cardona is a former staff writer at Miami New Times.