Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), an ardent longtime defender of outgoing President Donald Trump, is unwavering in his allegiance to the disgraced soon-to-be ex-commander-in-chief as Trump’s time in office draws to a close. During debate over Trump’s then-pending second impeachment on the House floor on Wednesday, Gaetz made the unhinged assertion that, during anti-police brutality protests across the U.S. last summer, Democratic leaders “lit actual flames!” and “actual fires!” When he got to this portion of his remarks, at which point boos erupted in the chamber, he was loudly yelling. Gaetz is, of course, entirely incorrect, and his spectacle is disturbingly unhinged.
Besides the fact that Democratic leaders obviously did not, on the level of basic reality, light “actual flames!” anywhere in the country, Democratic leaders including Joe Biden repeatedly offered unequivocal public condemnations of violence in all its forms, including in the context of the anti-police brutality protests that occasionally progressed into violence. Pretending like Democratic leaders didn’t offer these repeated public condemnations of violence is just ridiculous.
The issues with Gaetz’s remarks go well on from there. While isolated instances of rioting did unfold in certain areas, he said that “cities burned” for “months,” which just ridiculously overstates the actual reality of the situation. How are observers supposed to take Republicans seriously in their supposed effort to confront violence when they insist upon deceptively mischaracterizing the basic reality of what went on in the name of political gain? Gaetz also appears to have grossly misrepresented comments from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who flatly “did not call for physical harm to… officials or harassment against Trump’s supporters,” CNN explains.
Gaetz petulantly ranted as follows:
‘The Speaker said to us just moments ago: words matter. But apparently those words don’t matter when they’re uttered by Democrats — when the gentlelady from Massachusetts calls for unrest in the streets, when the gentlelady from California brazenly brags that she called for people to get in the faces of those who serve and support the president. I denounce political violence from all ends of the spectrum, but make no mistake, the Left in America has incited far more political violence than the Right. For months, our cities burned, police stations burned, our businesses were shattered, and they said nothing, and they cheerled for it, and they fundraised for it, and they allowed it to happen in the greatest country in the world. Some have cited the metaphor that the president lit the flame — well they lit actual flames! Actual fires!’
Check out his tantrum below: