OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Rep. Matt Gaetz fumed on Sunday after a video clip of him prepping then-2018 Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis on how to respond to then-President Donald Trump.
The Florida Republican congressman, who has positioned himself as a major supporter of Trump, ripped the leak as “disloyal hackery” after it was aired by ABC News.
Mediaite reported: “Gaetz was an adviser for DeSantis back then, so the footage showed the two of them standing next to each other for a mock debate in which Gaetz asked DeSantis ‘Is there any issue upon which you disagree with President Trump?’”
Gaetz took to Twitter to criticize the leak of several video clips featuring DeSantis contemplating how to address certain issues while maintaining favor with the ex-president’s supporters. Gaetz denounced the release as “disloyal hackery” and rejected the notion that it portrays DeSantis in a negative political light.
I ran the Desantis Debate Prep in 2018.
Though I prefer Trump for President (bigly), the release of these videos by the person operating the camera is disloyal hackery that I do not abide.
Staffers who leak on the candidates they’ve done work for deserve the reputations they… https://t.co/3FsmbLbtab
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) May 7, 2023
After a Twitter user remarked that they did not have a problem with anything that DeSantis said, Gaetz responded: “He didn’t say anything wrong. Still doesn’t make this leak honorable.”
That person then replied to Gaetz: “Of course not. But why is anyone acting like this was a big gotcha? Total nothing-burger designed to distract [sic] from any reasonable discourse.”
Of course not. But why is anyone acting like this was a big gotcha?
Total nothing-burger designed to distact from any reasonable discourse
— CatFace Pony soldier (@plecander) May 7, 2023
In addition to Gaetz, Byron Donalds, who has since been elected to Congress as well from Florida, was advising DeSantis, a former congressman himself. Gaetz took to Twitter again to say that neither he nor Donalds leaked the video in response to a user who appeared to blame Trump’s presidential campaign for it.
“DeSantis did debate prep for the 2018 governor race with Matt Gaetz, and now ABC has video footage of that prep. Either Gaetz or another Trump loyalist leaked that footage, which will be used to attack DeSantis. There really is no low Trump’s inner circle won’t stoop to,” the user wrote.
“This wasn’t me or Byron. We’ve both denounced it and we wouldn’t want to be treated this way. It was low class hackery, as we’ve called it,” Gaetz responded.
This wasn’t me or Byron. We’ve both denounced it and we wouldn’t want to be treated this way.
It was low class hackery, as we’ve called it.
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) May 7, 2023
“I was on the DeSantis Debate prep team. These tapes should not have been leaked. It’s low class,” Donalds added in a tweet of his own.
I was on the DeSantis Debate prep team. These tapes should not have been leaked. It’s low class. https://t.co/zNClyHn0iL
— Byron Donalds (@ByronDonalds) May 7, 2023
Both Donalds and Gaetz have endorsed Trump for the presidency. DeSantis is expected to announce a bid for the 2024 GOP nomination but has yet to do so.
In January, Gaetz also addressed another leak: Classified documents held by President Joe Biden.
He floated a theory about recent media interest in the documents after they were initially discovered in November, just days before the midterm elections.
The Florida lawmaker said he believes that Democrats are engaged in an effort to “take out” Biden before he officially announces a 2024 reelection bid, which would potentially see him in a rematch with former President Donald Trump, who made his run official about a week after the elections.
Those first documents were found in an office Biden used at the Penn Biden Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank, after he left the vice presidency in early 2017. Additional classified documents have been discovered in the garage of one of his Delaware homes. It’s not clear who leaked information about the initial document discovery last November to the media.
“There’s an element to this that feels like the Democrats are taking out Joe Biden,” Gaetz told Fox News on Thursday. “I don’t know that that’s the case, but I don’t know that it’s not.”
“But just as Joe Biden is hardening the cement around his decision to run for president again, they start looking for what classified documents might have been tucked away eight years ago,” he continued.
He added that he was merely speculating and did not know the details at the time regarding what kind of documents Biden allegedly had in his possession.