A Preview of the Coming GOP Crackup?

It was not quite 10 a.m. on Tuesday when Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz took the microphone at the House Republican Conference meeting and blasted the titular host of the gathering, GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney. A little more than two hours later, at 12:25 p.m., he posted a tweet about the confrontation, calling for Cheney’s removal. And by 1:25 p.m., Gaetz had recorded, posted, and tweeted a new episode of his podcast, “Hot Takes with Matt Gaetz.” 

The intro to the podcast opens with effusive praise for Gaetz from Donald Trump (twice) and Sean Hannity and the segments are broken up with the kind of “sizzle” sound effects you might expect in a home-produced middle school podcast. In the latest episode, Gaetz, who promises his podcast will give a “full-access, behind the scenes look” at Washington, offers a blow-by-blow account of the House GOP meeting Tuesday that most other Republicans would speak about only on background. 

Gaetz is blunt about his assessment of the problem: Cheney is insufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump. The Florida firebrand, who has a book out in September from Bombardier Books called Firebrand and last week promoted a new HBO documentary featuring him by tweeting “Move Over Joe Exotic,” suggests that Cheney is seeking publicity and approbation for her disloyalty to Trump. And this, he says, is disqualifying. 

“Jim Jordan—my colleague, my mentor, my friend—made the case strongly that Liz Cheney is hurting President Trump,” says Gaetz to open the podcast. “Jim pointed out Liz’s opposition to the president’s Afghanistan policy, the president’s Germany policy, the president’s response to coronavirus, her tweets attacking him and, frankly, her effort to try to oust Republican Thomas Massie.”  

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