Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who recently proclaimed that Trump supporters are the “main attraction in the greatest show on earth,” isn’t exactly enjoying widespread popularity within his own political party. In an interview with POLITICO published this weekend, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) — who was one of seven Senate Republicans who voted to convict Trump at the conclusion of his recent second impeachment trial — said that Gaetz, who consistently resorts to theatrics, is “not an adult.”
Gaetz is a vocal Trump ally who first won a seat in Congress in the same election that Trump won the White House. After the rioting at the U.S. Capitol last month, Gaetz sought to absolve Trump of responsibility for the violence, although the rioters proceeded under the explicit pretense of Trump’s lie that the 2020 presidential election was rigged for Biden and concurrently hoped to forcibly stop the formal certification of the results.
While literally yelling, Gaetz claimed that Democratic leaders “lit actual flames!” and “actual fires!” during widespread anti-police brutality demonstrations across the country last year — which, on a basic level, is a lie. Gaetz’s underlying accusation that Democratic leaders fueled isolated instances of rioting that sprung up amidst the protests was fundamentally false. Democratic leaders including Joe Biden himself repeatedly and unequivocally condemned violence of all sorts, including in the context of the the anti-police brutality demonstrations. Pretending that those involved in the rioting were Biden supporters is laughable from the get-go. Biden — a relatively middle-of-the-road candidate who preaches unity — isn’t exactly banking on rioters for his votes.
Meanwhile, while speaking with POLITICO, Sasse didn’t exactly seem concerned with opposition from within the Republican Party to his vote in favor of the conviction of Trump. Although seven Senate Republicans and all Democrats voted in favor of impeachment, putting the total votes for conviction at 57, conviction requires 67 of the Senate’s 100 votes. As POLITICO explains it, the Nebraska GOP “voted on Saturday afternoon to express their disappointment with the senator in a resolution” that cited complaints including his impeachment vote.
As Sasse put it:
‘I care about a lot of the people, but I don’t really care about the censure. There are a lot of really good people involved in party activism. But I don’t think they’re at all representative of regular Nebraskans… Nebraska is a lot Trumpier than I am. But I got a lot more votes than he did… You want to go to some hotel, strip mall conference room and scream about a politician who tried to tell you: ‘I would oppose somebody in my own party who violated their oath’? That’s not healthy.’
And yet, that’s the stunt that Nebraska Republicans launched. Other Senate Republicans who voted for Trump’s conviction, including Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy and North Carolina’s Richard Burr, have also faced pushback from their state party organizations after the impeachment vote, but they haven’t exactly said that they regret their decisions, no matter the complaints.