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Number two House Republican says GOP won't take action against Matt Gaetz unless 'something really formal' happens
Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), the number two Republican in the House, on Wednesday told reporters the GOP will not take action against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) unless "something really formal" from the DOJ happens. Gaetz has not been charged but admits he is under DOJ investigation.
Asked if he has "confidence" in Gaetz, Scalise told reporters, "Well, you know, we've heard a lot of stories, you know I mean obviously I've read the media reports but there's been nothing that we've seen yet from the Dept. of Justice. If something's going on obviously we'll find out about it."
"You know, right now, it's hard to speculate on rumors, but, you know, if something really formal happened from Justice, we would of course react and take action," Scalise said at the press briefing.
Gaetz allegedly is under DOJ investigation for a possible sexual relationship with a 17-year old girl, and for possible sex trafficking of a minor. He also allegedly used illegal drugs and showed fellow members of Congress on the House floor photos of women he had sex with.
On Tuesday Politico reported federal agents obtained a warrant and seized Gaetz's cell phone late last year.
House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) on Gaetz:
"It's hard to speculate on rumors, but if something really formal happened from Justice we would of course react and take action." pic.twitter.com/cJGjom922o — The Recount (@therecount) April 14, 2021
President Joe Biden, who on Wednesday announced the withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan, transformed into a vocal opponent of "forever wars" after being haunted by his vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq.
In 2002, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden gave his blessing to the use of force the following year by then president George W. Bush who falsely asserted that dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
For nearly 20 years since, Biden has been explaining himself, facing criticism during the 2020 election campaign both from Bernie Sanders, his leftist rival for the Democratic nomination, and incumbent Donald Trump, who broke with most Republicans by denouncing "forever wars."
And every time, Biden, now 78, took pains to make amends.
"I did make a bad judgment," Biden said at a July 2019 debate.
But Biden insisted he opposed the war and believed that Bush wanted the war authorization to pressure Saddam to let in weapons inspectors.
The historical record reads differently. In mid-2003, Biden said that Bush "has stated his determination to remove Saddam from power" and said he still believed he made the "correct" vote.
Biden's record on war has never been entirely consistent. He voted against the first Gulf War in 1990 that forced Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.
But a key factor in his shift of thinking came when his cherished son Beau deployed to Iraq, with Biden thinking not only as a senior policymaker but as a father.
In his speech Wednesday from the White House, Biden said that Beau's service had been his "North star" in deciding on Afghanistan -- and recalled that some soldiers deployed in Afghanistan were not even born on September 11, 2001.
By the time he became Barack Obama's vice president, a very different Biden had emerged.
He forcefully pleaded for a complete pullout of troops from Iraq, which Obama ordered in 2011.
"I was responsible for getting 150,000 combat troops out of Iraq -- my son was one of them," he said in a presidential primary debate.
While many have described the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a historic blunder by the United States, the 2011 withdrawal has also come under fire by critics who say it led to a vacuum that allowed the rise of the ultra-violent Islamic State extremist movement.
- Critical voice on Afghanistan -
Like the vast majority of Americans, Biden backed the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan to root out the Tailban and Al-Qaeda after the devastation of the September 11 attacks.
But Biden became the most persistent voice inside the Obama administration calling for an exit in Afghanistan.
His concerns date from his time as a senator when he reportedly stormed out of a dinner in Kabul with then president Hamid Karzai whom Biden felt was giving short shrift to legitimate US concerns on corruption.
Unlike on Iraq, Biden did not prevail on Afghanistan, with Obama embracing a "surge" of troops for the "good war" on Afghanistan. By 2011, an all-time high of 100,000 US troops were in Afghanistan.
Biden's hesitation extended to the operation to kill Osama bin Laden, with the vice president counseling against the high-risk raid into Pakistan. Obama went ahead with the raid, killing the world's most wanted man and mastermind of September 11.
Richard Holbrooke, the veteran envoy who was in charge of Afghanistan and Pakistan at the start of Obama's presidency, recounted a harsh exchange with Biden in his diary, later included in a biography of the late diplomat by George Packer.
Holbrooke, according to his diary account, agreed with Biden that the Afghanistan war was unwinnable but argued that the United States should not abandon the gains made.
Biden rose from his chair in anger. "I am not sending my boy back there to risk his life on behalf of women's rights!" Biden was quoted as saying.
"It just won't work, that's not what they're there for."
© 2021 AFP
New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman has a new report about the awkward position that the Republican Party is in yet again, and that it's one of their own making.
Writing Wednesday, Haberman compared former President Donald Trump in 2016 to who he is now and noted that the GOP is acting in exactly the same way. They just want him to go away. Sec. Mike Pompeo is already visiting Iowa and New Hampshire and former Sec. Nikki Haley, who first trashed Trump after the Jan. 6 attack, has announced that she might run if Trump doesn't.
"Just like when Donald J. Trump was a candidate in 2016, rival Republicans are trying to avoid becoming the target of his attacks or directly confronting him, while hoping someone else will," wrote Haberman, noting the odd paralysis.
Despite being removed from Twitter and Facebook, Trump is still causing trouble for the GOP. He's attacking Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and he pledged to take down Republicans who supported impeachment. Trump frequently breaks the unspoken rule of the GOP that one didn't speak ill of their own party members.
Now, as was typical in 2016, Republicans are scrambling to figure out how to oppose what Trump says without offending him.
"I think a lot of that rhetoric is — you know, it's part of the style and tone that comes with the former president," said Sen. John Thune (R-SD) about the attacks on McConnell.
Tim Miller, former Jeb Bush adviser explained that during the 2016 campaign, Republicans assumed he would self-implode. He never did.
"It is Groundhog Day," said Miller. "I always thought that was like a rational choice in 2015. But after we all saw how the strategy fails of just hoping and wishing for him to go away, nobody learned from it."
Mike DuHaime, who advised Gov. Chris Christie during the 2016 primary, explained that somehow members of the GOP still beg to be on Trump's good side.
"He intimidates people because he will attack viciously and relentlessly, much more than any other politician, yet somehow people crave his approval," said DuHaime. Some of that is also about a political fear that they'll draw the angry eye of Trump, who will turn the GOP base against them.
"Trump did self-destruct eventually, after four years in office," Mr. DuHaime said. "But he can still make or break others, and that makes him powerful and relevant."
Republican strategist David Kochel summed it up: "We've seen this movie before — a bunch of G.O.P. leaders all looking at each other, waiting to see who's going to try and down Trump.
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