Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, called allegations against Rep. Matt Gaetz “sickening” on Sunday, but stopped short of calling for the resignation of the Florida Republican, who’s facing a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations.
“As the mother of daughters, the charges certainly are sickening. As the Speaker noted there is an ethics investigation underway, there are criminal investigations underway, and I’m not going to comment further on that publicly right now,” Cheney said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Asked if she was surprised by the allegations, Cheney only said, “I’m not going to comment further.”
Gaetz, who is not only facing a federal investigation, but is also being investigated by the House Ethics Committee, has been a frequent critic of Cheney, and even traveled to her home state to hold a rally against her after she voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection” on January 6.
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who also voted for impeachment and has been a frequent critic of the GOP’s embrace of Trump, became the first congressional Republican to call for Gaetz to step down last week. Few GOP allies are speaking out on Gaetz’s behalf, and most Republicans have been keeping quiet, as the federal investigation hangs over his head.
Federal investigators are examining allegations that Gaetz had sex with an underage girl who was 17 at the time and with other women who were provided drugs and money in violation of sex trafficking and prostitution laws. Federal investigators are also seeking to determine whether Gaetz was provided travel and women in exchange for political favors as part of a broader probe, people familiar with the investigation tell CNN.
Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing, and no charges have been brought against him. In response to the Ethics Committee’s Friday announcement that it was looking into Gaetz, his office told CNN that the “allegations are blatantly false and have not been validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them.”
Making his first public appearance since news of the investigation broke, Gaetz struck a defiant tone Friday evening at a conservative summit held at Trump’s Miami golf resort.
“The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life to wild, and I mean wild, conspiracy theories,” the Florida Republican said at the “Save America Summit” held by Women for America First at Trump National Doral.
During Sunday’s interview, Cheney also joined Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson in rebuking recent comments from Trump. During a Republican National Committee donor retreat Saturday evening, the former President repeated familiar lies about the 2020 election and insulted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a person in the room told CNN.
“The former President is using the same language that he knows provoked violence on January 6,” Cheney said.
“As a party we need to be focused on the future.”
CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Annie Grayer contributed to this report.