Congressman Matt Gaetz, currently under investigation by the Justice Department over allegations of sex trafficking, is being mocked online for calling himself a “canceled man” who is “wanted by the Deep State”.
The Florida Republican tweeted: “I won’t be intimidated by the lying media. I won’t be extorted by a former DOJ official and the crooks he is working with.”
“The truth will prevail,” he added. An earlier tweet said that “big government, big tech, and big media” would be happy to see him no longer in Congress.
Mr Gaetz is accused of using phone-based payment apps to send money to Joel Greenberg, an associate and alleged sex trafficker, who then passed the money on to teenage girls.
He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and said he is the victim of an attempted extortion plot. Mr Gaetz has not been charged with any criminal offence.
Ignoring the specifics of the investigation against him, the congressman and Donald Trump loyalist attempted to paint himself as some kind of martyr for a larger cause.
Mr Gaetz later tweeted: “I may be a cancelled man in some corners. I may even be a wanted man by the Deep State. But I hear the millions of Americans who feel forgotten, canceled, ignored, marginalised and targeted.’
“I draw confidence knowing that the silent majority is growing louder every day,” he added.
This drew more of a response on Twitter, with YouTuber Cody Johnston asking: “Cancelled for what, Matt?” and TV presenter Andy Cohen helpfully reminding him of one allegation: “You Venmo’d money for Sex dude.”
Writer Tony Posnanski similarly tweeted: “Dude, you paid an underage girl for sex and you paid her through an app.” He added: “Save your Braveheart speech.”
Political commentator Brian Tyler Cohen wrote: “Dude thinks he’s some kind of a martyr for paying for sex.”
Kim Sherrell, a producer at Intertheory, tweeted: “C’mon, Captain Venmo! Read the room. This ‘silent majority’ of oppressed sex traffickers of which you speak exists only in your feverish, oversized skull.”
She added: “Matt Gaetz expressing his desire to be the voice for oppressed sex traffickers everywhere. You can’t make it up.”
A particularly scathing response came from singer Richard Marx, who wrote: “You’re a canceled man by all truly decent people. We’re not in corners. We’re the vast majority who aren’t racist pieces of s**t sex-trafficking teenagers. It’s you who’s cornered and not by your imaginary ‘Deep State’ but by the Justice Department.”
He closed by calling Mr Gaetz a “vile scum-slurping pig”.
Twitter user Angela Belcamino noted: “You’re not wanted by the ‘deep state’ ... more like the FBI.”
Former Clinton administration White House press secretary Joe Lockhart felt differently and tweeted simply: “Actually, no one wants you.”
The investigation into Mr Gaetz’s involvement with Mr Greenberg continues. His actions will also be investigated by the House of Representatives Ethics Committee. Two of his senior aides have resigned in recent days.
Mr Greenberg, previously the elected tax collector for Seminole County near Orlando, is currently detained in Florida and is awaiting trial in mid-June. He is expected to plead guilty.