Columns

Freedom Caucus Member Talks Unity: 'I Go Out on Dates with Democrats'

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) speaks during a news conference outside of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill on Feb. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

A member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus said on CNN Thursday evening that his romantic life involves the other side of the aisle, and opined that talking about cross-aisle relationships could lead to “more adult discussion, and we need more of that in the country.”

“The reason I wanted to come on tonight is to say I have friends who are Democrats. I go out on dates with people who are Democrats, and I just think that if we were a little more honest about that, and willing to acknowledge it, we would be more likely to defuse some of this anger and anxiety that leads to violence,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said on Chris Cuomo’s show.

“What I’m saying is, I think what you’re saying exists behind the lines needs to be brought in front of the lines,” Cuomo replied.

“Yes,” Gaetz agreed.

The congressman said that for the people at “CNN, the Obamas, the Clintons, George Soros, Robert De Niro, my colleague Debbie Wasserman Schultz, it’s terrible they’ve had to endure this.”

“You know, look, the brave people who step forward in public service know that we put ourselves in the limelight, but this is really something we shouldn’t have going on in the country. And I think it needs to be denounced for what it is, a scare tactic. And if that’s where the investigation leads, I hope those that are responsible are severely punished,” he said of the week’s mail bombs.

So far, 10 packages have been intercepted, all with Wasserman Schultz’s Florida office as the return address. Recipients have been former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan, George Soros, Robert De Niro, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and former Vice President Joe Biden. Waters and Biden both received two.

“This investigation is of the highest priority for the FBI. We have committed the full strength of the FBI’s resources and, together with our partners on our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, we will continue to work to identify and arrest whoever is responsible for sending these packages,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “We ask anyone who may have information to contact the FBI. Do not hesitate to call; no piece of information is too small to help us in this investigation.”

The FBI warned that packages may have been received in other locations. Several of the bombs were processed at the Opa-locka U.S. Postal Service center, which handled packages sent from Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

“A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!” Trump tweeted Thursday, followed by a 3 a.m. tweet this morning: “Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!'”

Trump read a statement Wednesday at the White House condemning the mail bombs and stating that “this egregious conduct is abhorrent to everything we hold dear and sacred as Americans.”

Gaetz said he thought, though the president hasn’t mentioned the names of the bomb targets, Trump “was more thematic in his remarks, he was precise that we want to end this climate of political discourse, and this notion that we’re morally better than our opponents, if you threw a rock on main street in my hometown, you would hit someone that would just as likely be more of a moral person than I am as they would be less of a moral person than I am.”

“The reality is, most of us want to get to the same place. I mean, Republicans, Democrats, independents, we want safe communities, good schools. And we have a different way to get there,” the congressman added. “That doesn’t make the other side bad.”

Trump “saying it was wrong to do these things to these people” and noting that “in our country, we condemn political violence” was “appropriate, because look at the end of the day, you know, we don’t know right now as we sit here, as investigators are combing through the evidence whether this in fact was a desire to kill people, scare people,” Gaetz said. “I don’t know that we can rule out it was some sort of false flag. I don’t think that’s what happened. But I think it’s false for us to prejudge that.”