As a general rule of thumb, one should hold back full support for a person under investigation until all the facts come out. It is okay to give some limited encouragement. For example, if we wanted to support a person under investigation, who – for the purpose of this discussion, we’ll call “Nicole James,” we would say, “Nicole James has been extremely good to us, we have seen her at her best, and we just hope that she gets through this difficult time with grace and strength.” That is how you support a person who is going through an investigation. (Nicole is not under investigation, cops beg her to put them in cuffs).
Appearing on CNN’s New Day, Maggie Haberman explained the reporting by her Times colleagues Michael Schmidt and Katie Benner who broke the original story of the investigation, and added that Trump’s first impulse was to defend Gaetz but that his advisors explained that it was a bad idea and ultimately talked him out of it.
Over the past four years, there may have been no member of Congress more loyal or eager to defend Trump from his critics. And the former president’s first inclination was to repay that loyalty by defending him as well. According to Haberman, several advisers told Trump that defending Gaetz was a “bad idea” and that “the nature of what Gaetz is being investigated for is so serious this is not something that former president trump should be out on a limb.
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“Remember, he’s not on Twitter anymore,” she continued, “so he can’t go out and do what he wants. So far, they’ve been successful at keeping him away.” She then explained the mutual admiration between the two, noting that “Trump did like Gaetz. He was a very full-throated supporter. He was defending him during impeachment. He tried to defend him during the second impeachment.”
With Trump, everything is transactional. Gaetz was one of his biggest supporters, so it didn’t matter what Gaetz might have done, he would support Gaetz in order to continue to get Gaetz’s support. The staff had issues with Gaetz because he’s Matt Gaetz. Attractive women on staff probably didn’t come within ten feet of Gaetz. Additionally, staffs tend to know even before the pols regarding what’s up about what when it comes to social stuff. They almost surely knew long ago that Gaetz was a slow-rolling train wreck.
Too bad Trump didn’t go with his gut and put himself out on that limb.
Instead, Wednesday afternoon, Trump did support Gaetz with some gibberish that comes close to what we cite above, just not as nicely written and nothing about cuffs and, well, you know.
“Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon. It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him.”
So, a couple qualifiers there. Every politician would know that deniability is critical. It is not surprising that Gaetz might ask a member of Trump’s team to pass along his request. There are rumors that Gaetz requested a blanket pardon and thus both can be true. Gaetz asked for a blanket pardon, he didn’t specifically ask Trump. Trump also says that he at least supports Gaetz enough to remind people that as of now, Gaetz denies it all.
Mediocre, and not as good as we’d have done. But he doesn’t do anything as good as everyone here and reading could have done. But it was something, perhaps because he couldn’t just keep his mouth shut. Trump is going to need friends, too.