On Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) said that he’d be interested in hiring Kyle Rittenhouse as a congressional aide, referring to the 18-year-old gunman currently on trial for killing two individuals and seriously injuring a third during an uprising against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Gaetz made the comments while speaking on Newsmax.
“You know what, Kyle Rittenhouse would probably make a good congressional intern,” Gaetz claimed. “We may reach out to him and see if he’d be interested in helping the country in additional ways.”
Gaetz said that Rittenhouse “deserves a not guilty verdict,” and that he hopes “he gets it.”
In August 2020, Rittenhouse left his home in Antioch, Illinois, and traveled to an uprising in Kenosha, Wisconsin with a military-style rifle, claiming he wanted to “protect businesses.” Rittenhouse secured the gun through what many consider to be a straw purchase, asking an older friend to buy and store the weapon for him because he was underage. On the night of the shooting, Rittenhouse took the gun without explicit permission from the homeowner.
Once he arrived in Kenosha, Rittenhouse shot and killed two individuals taking part in the demonstration, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and injured a third, Gaige Grosskreutz. A jury is currently on day three of deliberating whether he is guilty of murder and attempted murder.
It makes sense that Gaetz would view Rittenhouse as an ideal congressional intern, considering that the right-wing lawmaker has repeatedly defended “stand your ground” gun laws that empower self-appointed neighborhood patrols to terrorize and kill Black and Brown people with impunity. That’s not the only thing that Gaetz and Rittenhouse have in common, however: both men have posed for pictures with members of the Proud Boys, a far right white supremacist group known for inciting violence at protests.
Rittenhouse has displayed violent tendencies in the past, including threatening to shoot people outside a CVS drug store weeks before the Kenosha shooting.
Gaetz also weighed in on the sentencing of Jacob Chansley, a Trump loyalist who took part in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building. Gaetz described Chansley, who left a note threatening then-Vice President Mike Pence and other lawmakers after violently barging his way into Congress, as a “relatively harmless, nonviolent vegan.”
Gaetz is currently under investigation for allegedly violating federal sex trafficking laws in 2019, and for possibly having sex with an underage girl. Communications between Gaetz and his longtime friend, former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, show that Gaetz paid Greenberg a sum of $900, which Greenberg used to pay three separate sex workers.
It appears that the Republican congressman was aware of where the payments were going, suggesting he was involved with at least one of the women that received the payments. In the memo line to Greenberg within the payments, Gaetz wrote “hit up” and included the name of one of the sex workers Greenberg later paid.