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It was Donald Trump who ensured Matt Gaetz could ignore 'puritanical grandstanding or moralistic preening': reporter
Vanity Fair reporter Abigail Tracy recalled the first time she sat with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) in his office.
According to her tale, Gaetz reminisced about his first year in office and how, as a virtual nobody, he would stack up against people who have laundry lists of achievements. With a smirk of arrogance, he told her, "But we have managed to get it right since then."
What he meant, Tracy explained, is that he managed to build an identity by playing into the far-right of the GOP and putting interviews on cable news above his actual day job. She recalled the days when Gaetz was supporting former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) and he was following around Sen. Jeff Flake (R-FL), who has now been shunned from the GOP.
He wiggled his way into the Trump world by claiming he was "inspired by [the Trump] movement and informed by it, and I view the Trump presidency not as a condition to be managed, but as an opportunity to be seized."
"My first in-person glimpse of the congressman was him applying concealer in front of a large mirror in his office. Later, in a greenroom at CPAC, he would express glee at a Dyson hairdryer, which he told his chief of staff, Jillian Lane Wyant, 'changed my life,'" Tracy also recalled of the Florida man.
But after a friend and GOP ally Joel Greenberg, the former Seminole County tax collector pleaded guilty to 33 federal counts, including sex trafficking, Gaetz finds himself with few friends.
"A number of threads have spun out since the first Times report: accusations on his character and behavior, including allegations that Gaetz showed other lawmakers nude photos on the House floor of women he said he slept with, and that Gaetz used websites such as Seeking Arrangement to connect with young women, coordinated by Greenberg," Tracy wrote.
Now Gaetz is flocking to cable channels in the hopes he won't be canceled. It's impossible to get canceled if you're on every channel," Gaetz wrote in his book Firebrand. But allegations of sex trafficking a minor is hard to come back from when so much evidence seems to be unearthed.
Oddly, she noted that it was Donald Trump who helped "bachelors" like Gaetz be himself.
"We've got a president now who doesn't care for puritanical grandstanding or moralistic preening. He is a lot more direct, even visceral, open, and realistic about his likes and dislikes, so overall, this is a good time to be a fun-loving politician instead of a stick-in-the-mud," Gaetz wrote in the book. "I have an active social life, and it's probably easier in the era of Trump. We've had 'perfect family man' presidents before, after all, and many of those men sold out our country, even if their wives were happy the whole time. If politicians' family lives aren't what really matter to the voters, maybe that's a good thing. I'm a representative, not a monk."
In the end, she said that she won't count Gaetz out yet, regardless of the charges he could face if allegations prove to be true. It was assumed that Gaetz would bounce from Capitol Hill to a comfortable job on a right-wing network. Instead, Gaetz confessed that he's gotten used to playing offense instead of defense while in office. That has certainly changed in recent weeks.
North Korea could resume nuclear tests this year as a way to force President Joe Biden's administration to enter into dialogue, US intelligence experts said in a report released Tuesday.
"North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may take a number of aggressive and potentially destabilizing actions to reshape the regional security environment and drive wedges between the United States and its allies -- up to and including the resumption of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) testing," said the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in a report addressing threats the US faces around the world.
"We assess that Kim views nuclear weapons as the ultimate deterrent against foreign intervention and believes that over time he will gain international acceptance and respect as a nuclear power," the report states.
North Korea has not tested a long-range missile in more than three years, and has left the door open to talks with the US on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
But the report said "Kim may be considering whether to resume long-range missile or nuclear testing this year to try to force the United States to deal with him on Pyongyang's terms."
The 27-page report also addresses the Iranian nuclear program, and anticipated Iran's announcement Tuesday that it will start enriching uranium up to 60 percent purity. This would bring it a step closer to the 90 percent threshold needed for uranium to be used in a nuclear weapon.
"We continue to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities that we judge would be necessary to produce a nuclear device," the report said.
"If Tehran does not receive sanctions relief, Iranian officials probably will consider options ranging from further enriching uranium up to 60 percent to designing and building a new 40 megawatt heavy water reactor," the report said.
Iran's announcement Tuesday came two days after an explosion at its key nuclear facility in Natanz, which it blamed on arch-enemy Israel.
The 2015 nuclear agreement among Iran and major world powers calls for Iran to modify its heavy water reactor in Arak, which is under international control, so that it cannot produce military-grade plutonium.
© 2021 AFP
On Tuesday, CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale published a lengthy debunking of a lie circulating on right-wing social media pages that Black Lives Matter activists "stormed" the Iowa State Capitol, in the same way that pro-Trump insurrectionists attacked the U.S. Capitol.
"A group of right-wing websites and social media personalities, some with hundreds of thousands of followers, claimed that Black Lives Matter protesters 'stormed' Iowa's state Capitol last week," wrote Dale. "Some of them explicitly claimed that the protesters had forced their way into the building," and, he noted, David Harris Jr. wrote this event was "exactly" like the "Stop the Steal" riot.
However, these two things were not remotely alike.
"Protesters had a permit for both outside and inside the building," wrote Dale. "As a Facebook livestream video from one of the protesters showed, and as Iowa journalists on the scene noted later, the protesters walked in one by one through a security checkpoint. Protest co-organizer Angelina Ramirez told CNN that, prior to their entry, she and a colleague 'asked Capitol security and Iowa State Patrol how they would prefer us to funnel into the security line, hence the single-file line.'"
One young protester at the Iowa Capitol was arrested — but only for pushing a police officer's arm "in an attempt to get [his] attention."
"By the late afternoon, Iowa journalists from Iowa Public Radio, the Des Moines Register and the Ames Tribune had all debunked the claim that the Capitol had been stormed," wrote Dale. "Protest co-organizer Harold Walehwa told CNN he was 'frustrated and not surprised' when he saw the false 'storming' claims go viral."
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