U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz delivered a fiery speech from the House floor defending President Donald Trump and addressing protests that rocked the nation’s capital.
The Florida Republican elicited both applause and boos from his colleagues in Congress Wednesday as he reminded them that Trump had asked protestors to be peaceful. He expressed his gratitude to law enforcement who defended the Capitol when it was overrun by protesters but blamed the violence on Antifa and the left’s rhetoric.
While many in Congress seemed to dial back their open defense of the president following the deadly violence that unfolded, Gaetz doubled down on his support in a blistering speech calling out Democrats for the part they have played in stoking divisions and holding a double standard.
“Madam Speaker, one of the first things we did today when the House convened today was to join together to extend our grace and our kindness and our concern for a colleague who has experienced just an insurmountable amount of grief with his family and I want all of our fellow Americans watching to know that we did that because we care about each other,” Gaetz said on the House floor Wednesday.
— Debra Garrett🇺🇸 (@debragarrett) January 7, 2021
“And we don’t want bad things to happen to each other and our heart hurts when they do,” he added, noting that “there are plenty of folks over there who don’t like me too much.”
“This morning, President Trump explicitly called for demonstrations and protests to be peaceful. He was far more — 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,” Gaetz said, as he was met with applause.
This is my city, DC, on fire — last May. I didn’t receive a single text message on that night. But this afternoon my inbox was flooded with concerned messages from friends & family. We supposedly don’t believe the media anymore, yet it still manages to shape our perceptions. pic.twitter.com/U2hKMRH5Yx
— Mike (@Doranimated) January 7, 2021
“Now we came here today to debate, to follow regular order to, to offer an objection, to follow a process that is expressly contemplated in our Constitution. And for doing that, we’ve been called a bunch of seditious traitors,” Gaetz emphasized.
“Not since 1985 has a Republican president been sworn in, absent some Democrat effort to object to the electors, but when we do it it’s ‘the new violation of all norms.’ When those things are said people get angry,” he explained.
The Florida congressman cited a report in The Washington Times about a facial-recognition company that matched demonstrators with anti-fascist group members.
“I don’t know if the reports are true, but The Washington Times has just reported some pretty compelling evidence from a facial-recognition company showing that some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters. They were masquerading as Trump supporters. And in fact, they were members of the violent terrorist group, Antifa,” Gaetz told his colleagues.
The Washington Times cited a retired military officer who informed the outlet that XRVision used its software to match two men who had breached the Capitol to two Philadelphia Antifa members.
“The source provided the photo match to The Times,” the newspaper reported, adding that one man had a “tattoo that indicates he is a Stalinist sympathizer” and the other,” while not known to have Antifa links, is someone who shows up at climate and Black Lives Matter protests in the West.”
Fox News political analyst Brit Hume echoed comments from many who noted that there were rarely ever reports of violence throughout the many rallies President Trump has held.
Do not be surprised if we learn in the days ahead that the Trump rioters were infiltrated by leftist extremists. Note: this is not to excuse any of them.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) January 7, 2021
Except that MAGA types, through countless rallies and protests, had little history of violence.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) January 7, 2021
Gaetz concluded his floor speech with another shot at Democrats as he thanked law enforcement who had defended the Capitol earlier in the day.
“I’m sure glad that, at least for one day, I didn’t hear my Democrat colleagues calling to defund the police,” he said, and was met with hearty applause.