Defiant Gaetz Tells Crowd 'I Have Not Yet Begun to Fight' (Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images)
By Brian Trusdell | Friday, 09 April 2021 10:21 PM
A defiant Rep. Matt Gaetz channeled Revolutionary War hero Capt. John Paul Jones to respond to unsubstantiated reports of misconduct, telling an audience at a conservative gathering Friday, ''I have not yet begun to fight.''
''I'm built for the battle. And I'm not going anywhere,'' the 38-year-old third-term Republican from Florida’s panhandle said to cheers from the ''Women for America First'' event at the ''Save America Summit'' in Miami.
The recalcitrant tone followed the announcement earlier in the day that the Democrat-controlled House Ethics Committee had opened an investigation to anonymously sourced stories of Gaetz being investigated by the Department of Justice for his relations with underage women.
''The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life, to wild, and I mean wild, conspiracy theories,'' Gaetz said. ''I won’t be intimidated by a lying media, but I won't be extorted by a former DOJ official and the crooks he is working with.
''The truth will prevail.''
Addressing the allegations within the first two minutes of an approximate 18-minute address, Gaetz continued the contumacious posture he has taken since The New York Times first reported the allegations on March 30. The Times later claimed Gaetz sought a pardon before then-President Donald Trump left office, a report Trump dismissed out of hand.
Gaetz has counterclaimed a former Department of Justice official has demanded blackmail to make the allegations go away.
''After the Russia hoax, the knock-off Ukraine impeachment sequel; in an election that was stolen as a consequence of illegal last-minute changes to the rules, folks have sort of got to know that I'll take on the establishment of both parties, and I wouldn't have it any other way,'' Gaetz said.
''Let me assure you: I have not yet begun to fight.''
Gaetz, who has faced a call to resign from fellow Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, thanked the former president and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Jim Jordan of Ohio for publicly standing by him.
'''We have your back.' That is the sentiment I have heard from thousands of Americans at restaurants walking through public parks, sometimes just out on the street and emails online donations,'' Gaetz said. ''I can't tell you how much it means to me. This past week has been full of encouragement from President Trump, Marjorie Taylor Green and Jim Jordan to the imagination that shared so much love.''