QAnon is a baseless conspiracy theory predicated on the idea that the government is run by a cabal of sex-trafficking pedophiles. It stands to reason that adherents might feel a little vindicated — celebratory, even — when news breaks that a prominent politician is under investigation for sex trafficking. Such news broke last night, when The New York Times reported that the FBI is looking at Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) for a possible sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, whom he may have “trafficked” by paying for her to travel across state lines.
But alas, the QAnon community doesn’t seem to be calling for Gaetz to be removed from Congress, arrested, or worse, as they have for countless other politicians who are not under investigation for sex trafficking. Instead, the QAnon crowd appears to be defending Gaetz by alleging that the media and the Justice Department are persecuting one of former President Trump’s most fervent supporters.
For some reason, QAnon people are refusing to take their dream scenario coming true — a sitting congressman being investigated for child trafficking — at face value. They love Gaetz’s inscrutable double agent story because it sounds like 5D chess.
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) March 31, 2021
Q followers voice their support of Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, who has been accused of sex trafficking a minor.
Supporters of the Q theory often defend their conspiracy-based movement by claiming that they are anti-pedophilia and anti-sex trafficking activists. pic.twitter.com/E2e90nkUer
— allie mezei (@pinealdecalcify) March 31, 2021
Gaetz has made it easy for them. His defense centers around the idea that the allegations are tied to a crooked ex-Justice Department official’s attempt to extort his family, and there isn’t much the QAnon community loves more than the idea that the Justice Department is filled with “deep state” actors trying to sabotage Trump and his supporters.
What else is Gaetz claiming? It’s complicated.
In a statement released Tuesday night, Gaetz said that an ex-DOJ official and others have “organized” in an attempt to extort his family for $25 million, threatening to smear his name if they don’t pay up. His family went to the FBI, he says, and has since been cooperating with an investigation into the extortion attempt. Gaetz says that as part of this investigation, his father wore a wire, and Gaetz now wants the FBI to release any relevant tapes. Gaetz says the FBI’s investigation into his possible relationship with a 17-year-old was leaked to the Times in an attempt to somehow “thwart” this extortion investigation.
What’s missing from all of this is an explanation of why Gaetz was under investigation for sex trafficking in the first place. Gaetz told the Times the investigation is the result of people trying to “recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward,” and that the allegations are false. But who are these people? Are some of them currently working at the DOJ? Who is the girl in question and what was the nature of Gaetz’s relationship with her? It’s unclear.
Gaetz went on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight to defend himself after the Times published its story. It didn’t go great, in part because he did not offer anything resembling a coherent explanation for what’s going on, and in part because of a few bizarre attempts to rope Carlson into his defense.
Gaetz again bizarrely implicates Tucker Carlson in his own personal peccadillo, then says, “providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime” pic.twitter.com/wD0hUmwGGN
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 31, 2021
“If you just saw our Matt Gaetz interview, that was one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted,” Carlson said after coming back from commercial break. “I don’t think that clarified much,” Carlson added. “I don’t quite understand it.”
The main thing Gaetz seems to want everyone to understand is not what happened, but that he’s being treated unfairly and people are out to get him. It’s just the kind of paranoid conspiracy theorizing that continues to fuel QAnon as their prognostications fall flat over and over again, and which seems to have brought many in the community to Gaetz’s defense. “I’m a well-known, outspoken conservative, and I guess that’s out of style in a lot of parts of the country right now,” Gaetz told Carlson in explaining why he’s been wrong by … the FBI? The same FBI he’s also cooperating with to catch the former DOJ official trying to extort him? Again, it’s unclear.
Regardless of whether Gaetz is intentionally trying to muddy the waters around whatever is actually going on here, the situation has become so confusing that the QAnon community has been able to fill in the gaps with whatever they feel suits the movement, which — surprise! — doesn’t seems as concerned with sex trafficking as it does with defending Trump and his allies at all costs.