The congressman was a MAGA fixture. Now, engulfed in scandal, he’s persona non grata in Trumpworld.
“Not a lot of people are surprised,” said one person involved in Trump’s post-presidential operations.
In the days since news broke that the Department of Justice was looking into whether Gaetz had violated sex trafficking laws — an allegation he denies — no Trump aide or family member has tweeted about the Florida congressman. Nor have almost any of the most prominent Trump surrogates or Trump-allied conservatives and media personalities, including Sean Hannity, Dan Bongino, Charlie Kirk or American Conservative Union Chair Matt Schlapp, at whose annual CPAC conference Gaetz had recently appeared.
The Daily Beast reported on Friday night that Trump himself was monitoring the situation but following the advice of aides to stay quiet about it. And several people familiar with their relationship said Gaetz and Trump have not spoken regularly lately, even after the lawmaker had offered to resign from Congress to join the ex-president’s impeachment defense team in February.
Operatives inside Trump World say the silence is owed to a variety of factors. Among them is the fact that Gaetz has always been regarded as a grenade whose pin had already been pulled. The congressman had a reputation for a wild personal lifestyle that, associates say, occasionally bordered on reckless. Some of Gaetz’s own aides would regularly send embarrassing videos of their boss to other GOP operatives, according to two people familiar with the videos.
“Anyone that has ever spent 10 minutes with the guy would realize he’s an unserious person,” said one former Trump campaign aide.
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