Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz was booed by colleagues in the U.S. House during his speech amid the chamber’s impeachment proceedings on Wednesday. Gaetz claimed that Democrats had set actual flames to government institutions and citizen businesses during last summer’s racial justice uprisings.
Considering that the impeachment hearings accused President Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection that led to last Wednesday’s riot by Trump-supporters on the Capitol, Gaetz said, “The Left in America has incited far more political violence than the Right.”
“For months, our cities burned, police stations burned, our businesses were shattered. And they said nothing, or they cheerled for it, and they fundraised for it, and they allowed it to happen in the greatest country in the world. Well, some have cited the metaphor that the president ‘lit the flame.’ Well, they lit actual flames, actual fires.”
His speech then concluded as he was cut off for going over his allotted speaking time. His final words were cut off by the debate moderator and his colleague’s boos in the chamber, although several others applauded for him.
Because only a few hours were allotted to each party to make statements before the impeachment vote, each speaker got around one minute to make any statements before the final vote.
The final House vote to impeach Trump was 232 in favor, 197 opposed and four Republican abstentions. No Democrats opposed Trump’s impeachment, and 10 Republicans voted in favor of it.
While Minneapolis, Minnesota’s 3rd police precinct was burned down during racial justice uprisings the late May 2020, a right-wing extremist named Ivan Harrison Hunter bragged about helping start the fire, according to The Guardian, and four other men were eventually indicted for its actual burning.
Despite his claim that “The Left in America has incited far more political violence than the Right,” in January 2019, the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism reported that every extremist killing in the U.S. in 2018 was linked to far-right individuals or organizations, and said that right-wing terrorism had increased 320 percent in the four years since 2014.
Despite pressure to do more to combat the far-right, the Trump Administration defunded programs intended to stop the radicalization of young white people, according to The Atlantic.
During his comment period, Gaetz also claimed that Trump has been impeached twice-over for “being right.”
“Before the last presidential impeachment,” Gaetz said, “President Trump rightly pointed out the improper activities of the Biden crime family and subsequently he’s been proven right…. And here we have the 2020 presidential election, where the President correctly pointed out unconstitutional behavior, voting irregularities, concerns over tabulations, dead people voting, and now impeachment again.”
Gaetz, Trump and other Republicans have claimed that a nationwide conspiracy of voter fraud caused Trump to lose the 2020 elections. However, lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign and Republican officials making these claims in court have almost wholly been withdrawn or dismissed due to lack of evidence.
Gaetz’s speech on Wednesday also referenced the December 18 impeachment of Trump for “abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.” At the time, House Democrats issued the articles of impeachment because Trump had asked the Ukrainian government to start a corruption investigation against his political rival, now President-elect Joe Biden, and then refused to honor subpoenas issued by the House to discuss the matter.
Trump and Republicans have repeatedly alleged that Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden profited off of his father’s role as vice president when negotiating Ukrainian and Chinese business deals.
However, an 87-page report released in mid-September 2020 by Republican Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin found no criminal financial activity by Hunter Biden nor concrete evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden, according to the fact-check site Snopes.com.
Newsweek contacted Gaetz’s office for comment.