Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), an ardent loyalist to Donald Trump, has suggested a plan to disrupt the dual investigations into the former president led by Department of Justice (DOJ) special counsel Jack Smith.
Unfortunately for Gaetz, however, the plan requires Trump to refrain from lying during his testimony before a House panel in Congress.
Gaetz has presented a number of strategies for how he and other Trump allies could protect the former president as he faces dozens of federal indictment charges. Last week, for example, he suggested that Republicans subpoena Smith to appear before the House Judiciary Committee, noting that if Smith refused to do so, he could be held in criminal contempt of Congress. Last month, he suggested that Congress vote to “defund” the special counsel’s office, limiting additional actions that Smith could take against the former president.
Gaetz explained his latest plan this week while discussing Trump’s most recent indictments, relating to his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, with right-wing radio host Charlie Kirk. In order to end the investigation and other federal charges (from the Mar-a-Lago documents case, or any other future charges), the House of Representatives would have to grant Trump whistleblower protection status, Gaetz said.
Afterward, “you can actually bring President Trump in to give testimony to the Congress and, in doing so, immunize him,” he went on.
Gaetz noted that House rules require a committee to have a “supermajority vote” in order to grant someone “full immunity” — but he had a plan for that as well.
“Speaker McCarthy could set up a select committee tomorrow,” Gaetz said, adding that if the committee was made up mostly of Republican lawmakers, they could achieve a supermajority vote.
The plan, as explained by Gaetz, would require the House to establish a select committee. McCarthy cannot do so on his own — he needs a majority vote in the House, which would require nearly every Republican in the chamber to cooperate with the scheme, given the GOP’s extremely narrow majority. The plan would also likely be challenged in courts by the DOJ, which may argue against the legality of granting Trump immunity in a way that is so transparently corrupt.
Gaetz admitted that the scheme would require Trump to actually testify before the theoretical select committee — and that new problems could arise from him doing so, such as Trump, a well-documented liar, perjuring himself.
“The downside of bringing anyone before Congress to give testimony is that if you say something that is material and that is not accurate, that can create a cascade of follow-on charges,” Gaetz said. “So it’s never something that you typically think of as a first step.”
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