Former President Donald Trump’s advisors have strongly urged him not to publicly defend GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz who is currently facing a sex crimes investigation, the Daily Beast reported Friday.
Trump has reportedly spent the last week watching the “Gaetzgate” scandal unfold from afar while consulting several advisors about what he should do about one of his most loyal allies.
According to two people familiar with the matter, Trump thinks the allegations against the Florida Republican seem “really bad” but also believes they could be a “smear,” the Daily Beast reported.
Nevertheless, Trump’s confidants have firmly said he should keep quiet on the matter— a recommendation the former president appeared to ultimately agree with.
Trump’s office has not issued any official statement on the matter as of Saturday.
Read more: We asked 30 Republicans who know and have worked with Rep. Matt Gaetz if they’ve reached out to him as his sordid sex stories snowball. Their collective silence was deafening.
Gaetz, a bombastic Trump loyalist, is currently being investigated for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in 2019 and paying her to travel with him, potentially breaking federal sex-trafficking laws by doing so, The New York Times reported earlier this week. Gaetz has not been charged in connection to the investigation.
Since the report, several more allegations have surfaced.
Among other allegations, Gaetz is accused of reportedly using campaign money to fund travel and other expenses for women, paying women for sex, and participating in a sex game that included a “Harry Potter” challenge and “extra points” for sleeping in sorority houses.
Gaetz has claimed that the federal probe is part of an “organized criminal extortion” scheme against his family. He said the plot involved two former justice department officials, whom he did not name.
“Matt Gaetz has never paid for sex. Matt Gaetz refutes all the disgusting allegations completely. Matt Gaetz has never ever been on any such websites whatsoever. Matt Gaetz cherishes the relationships in his past and looks forward to marrying the love of his life,” his office said in a statement on Thursday, according to the New York Times.
On Friday, the Florida Republican from the state’s first congressional district told the Hill that it is “very safe” to say he has no intentions of resigning.
Gaetz has been one of Trump’s biggest defenders on Capitol Hill. He recently spoke at the Republican National convention in Florida and was once called a “proud Trump protégé” by Politico.