Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) can't expect much support from his fellow congressional Republicans -- who have been waiting for a seemingly inevitable career-ending scandal.
The 38-year-old congressman has not won many friends since his 2016 election, and more than a half-dozen lawmakers told The Daily Beast that Gaetz loved alcohol, illegal drugs and younger women, and it was well-known among Republican lawmakers that he was dating a college student in 2018 who had come to Washington as an intern.
"Even the Republican Party doesn't like him very much," said one Republican operative.
Gaetz appears to be under investigation for sex trafficking involving a minor, which he claims is part of an elaborate $25 million extortion scheme possibly involving an elaborate hostage rescue in Iran, but few Republicans rushed to his defense in the first 24 hours of the scandal.
"I don't think a lot of people are going to go out of their way to defend him, especially with this outlandish-sounding defense," said one GOP staffer. "I don't think you'll find a lot of people who are desperate to keep him involved in Republican politics."
Only two House Republicans -- Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) -- spoke out in his defense Wednesday, after reports of the investigation broke, but GOP aides noted that Jordan, one of Gaetz's closest allies in Congress, would offer only a statement saying he believed the lawmaker and supported him staying on the Judiciary Committee.
One Hill source sent The Daily Beast a photo showing an empty Costco-sized box of "Bareskin" Trojan condoms sitting atop a trash bin outside Gaetz's office at the end of a recent session, which seems to underpin his scandalous reputation among colleauges.
However, some supporters outside of Washington are casting doubt on the allegations against Gaetz, saying they are just "another smear job" from the New York Times, but two of his most vigorous supporters -- former president Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. -- have so far remained silent about the scandal.