WASHINGTON – Florida's two Republican senators are steering clear of voicing support for Rep. Matt Gaetz, branding sex trafficking accusations against him serious but calling it premature to say what should happen to their fellow Floridian and GOP lawmaker.
The remarks by Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott were the latest cautious comments about Gaetz by Republicans, who have mostly taken neutral stances or said nothing about him. Federal agents are scrutinizing Gaetz over allegations that include sex with a minor, according to two people who spoke on condition of anonymity because they could not discuss details publicly.
A frequent face on conservative television outlets and an ardent ally of former President Donald Trump, Gaetz has broadly denied the accusations and not been charged with any crimes.
“Sure, and I don’t think anyone’s saying they’re not," Rubio said Tuesday when a reporter suggested the allegations are serious. “And he’s pretty firm in his denial, so we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out." Rubio said he's not spoken with Gaetz since news of the investigation emerged late last month.
On Monday, Scott said Gaetz faces “pretty serious allegations” but didn’t say what should happen to him. “I think we’ve got to get all the facts,” Scott said.
Both senators are considered potential 2024 presidential hopefuls. They spoke as lawmakers were returning from a two-week Easter recess, with many confronting questions about Gaetz for the first time.
Asked for comment Tuesday after returning to Washington for a vote, Gaetz referred reporters to a column he wrote last week saying he had not paid for sex and accusing his critics of being corrupt.
Few GOP lawmakers have voiced support for Gaetz, who has said he will not resign. Trump issued a brief statement last week that said Gaetz “has totally denied the accusations against him.”