Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), an outspoken ally of former President Donald Trump, said he would give up his House seat if he was asked to defend Trump at the impeachment trial, which is slated to begin next week.
In a Feb. 3 interview on the “War Room” podcast, Gaetz said some House colleagues had discussed whether they could represent Trump during the trial. They were told by the House Committee on Ethics that they couldn’t do so as sitting members of the House, he said.
Gaetz took issue with the current strategy employed by Trump’s legal team and said he would “absolutely” resign if called upon.
“I love my district … but I view this cancellation 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 great country,” he said. “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.
“I would leave my House seat, I would leave my home.”
Gaetz said he would take the opportunity to ensure that Trump got “a full-throated defense that wasn’t crouched down, that wasn’t in fear of losing some moderate Republican senator.”
Trump so far “has gotten a low-energy defense,” he said.
Gaetz’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
Meanwhile, an attorney for Trump said he won’t bring up claims about election fraud during his defense.
“There are plenty of questions about how the election was conducted throughout the country, but that’s for a different forum. I don’t believe that’s important to litigate in the Senate trial because you don’t need it,” attorney Bruce Castor told KYW Newsradio Philadelphia. “President Trump has plenty to win with what he has.”
Castor also pushed back against reports that Trump parted ways with his initial legal team over whether they would advance his claims about election fraud.
Attorneys for Trump and Democratic impeachment managers filed trial memorandums on Feb. 2 outlining their arguments for the Senate trial.
The Democrat memo (pdf) alleges that Trump incited a mob that breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by sowing doubt about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election. The memo (pdf) by Trump’s legal team denies the allegation and argues that the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president.
Democrats face an uphill battle in the Senate. Forty-five Republican senators voted in favor of a resolution calling the trial unconstitutional, since Trump is now a private citizen. With the Senate split 50–50, the impeachment managers would have to convince 17 Republicans that the trial is constitutional and that Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection.
Trump’s defense team tied nearly every argument in the trial memo to the overarching point that the trial is unconstitutional. They argued that since the Constitution states that “impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy an office,” Trump can’t be tried since he can’t be removed.
“The constitutional provision requires that a person actually hold office to be impeached,” the defense memo, authored by Castor and David Schoen, states. “Since the 45th President is no longer ‘President,’ the clause ‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for …’ is impossible for the Senate to accomplish, and thus the current proceeding before the Senate is void ab initio as a legal nullity that runs patently contrary to the plain language of the Constitution.”
Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.