Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that he would be willing to step down from his seat in Congress if former President Trump called on him to mount “an affirmative defense” in next week’s impeachment trial.
“Absolutely, if the president called me and wanted me to go defend him on the floor of the Senate, that would be the top priority in my life,” Gaetz told political strategist Steve Bannon.
Trump’s legal team on Tuesday filed its response to the House’s article of impeachment, denying any wrongdoing, and saying that the president was protected by the First Amendment in response to accusations he incited an insurrection.
“It is denied that the 45th President of the United States ever engaged in a violation of his oath of office,” Trump’s legal brief says. “To the contrary, at all times, Donald J. Trump fully and faithfully executed his duties as President of the United States, and at all times acted to the best of his ability to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, while never engaging in any high Crimes or Misdemeanors.”
Last week Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) forced a vote in the Senate regarding the constitutionality of holding an impeachment trial of a former president.
It was defeated by a 55 to 45 vote, making it highly unlikely that Democrats will be able to garner the 67 votes needed to convict Trump.
Gaetz, during an appearance on Steve Bannon’s War Room Pandemic podcast, argued that because Paul’s “brilliant” point of order has already demonstrated that the Senate will not have the votes to convict Trump, his legal team should play to “our people.”
“Let’s give them something to be excited about,” Gaetz said.
The Florida congressman explained that a number of Trump’s “A Team” in the House—Republicans who had defended him during the Democrats’ first impeachment gambit—had already asked the Ethics Committee if they could defend the former president, and were told that they could not.
“Would you resign in order to defend the president?” Bannon asked.
“I love my district, I love representing them, but I view this cancelation of the Trump presidency and the Trump movement as one of the major risks to my people, both in my district, and all throughout this country,” Gaetz replied.
“Absolutely, if the president called me and wanted me to go defend him on the floor of the Senate, that would be the top priority in my life,” he continued. “I would leave my House seat, I would leave my home, I would do anything I had to do to ensure that the greatest president in my lifetime—maybe the greatest president this country has ever had—got a full-throated defense that wasn’t crouched down, that wasn’t in fear of losing some moderate Republican Senator, but was worthy of the fight that he gave the great people of this country for four years.”