HomePoliticsMatt Gaetz parrots Trump's appeal to violent extremists during his trial

Matt Gaetz parrots Trump’s appeal to violent extremists during his trial

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) ominously invoked Thursday Donald Trumpappeal to the extreme right violent extremists as they joined the former president during his criminal trial in New York.

“Take a step back, Mr. President,” Gaetz wrote on social media, along with a photo of himself behind Trump during his trial.

The phrase is a reference to Trump infamously refuses to condemn heavily armed white supremacists, namely the neo-fascist Proud Boys, during a presidential debate in September 2020. The Proud Boys had been involved in violence that summer in cities such as Kenosha, Wisconsin and Portland, Oregon.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” is all Trump ultimately said in the debate, before trying to blame others for violence.

I’ll tell you what: someone has to do something about Antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing problem,” he said.

As HuffPost editor Andy Campbell reported in his book about the Proud Boys, the group put Trump’s statement on T-shirts and saw a surge in new recruits and merchandise revenue. They also took that sentence as marching orders and actively declared civil war when Trump said it.

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Several Proud Boys were later convicted of seditious conspiracy for helping lead the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Gaetz is one of several Republican lawmakers who have flocked to Trump’s trial in recent days to demonstrate their loyalty to him and follow up on his attacks on the rule of law, which Trump can no longer do because he is under a gag order.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a far-right congressman who spoke at a rally sponsored by the Proud Boys in February, appeared alongside Gaetz on Thursday. That includes Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who was rushed as she spoke outside the courthouse.

“Beetle juice!” someone shouted at Boebert, a reference to her being kicked out of a Denver theater last year for vaping during a musical production of the film.


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