Rep. Matt Gaetz, a top ally of President Trump, asked the leaders of the House Ethics Committee to investigate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for ripping up her copy of the president’s State of the Union speech.
‘She disgraced the House of Representatives, she embarrassed our country and she destroyed official records – the law does not allow the speaker of the House to destroy the records of the House,’ Gaetz said, previewing his move on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News Channel show. ‘And the rules of the House do not permit some little temper tantrum just because you don’t like what the president of the United States says.’
Late Wednesday night, Gaetz tweeted a copy of the letter he sent to Rep. Ted Deutch, the chairman of the House Ethics Committee, and Rep. Kenny Marchant, the GOP’s ranking member, where he calls Pelosi’s actions ‘deeply offensive’ while claiming she broke a U.S. code that prohibits officials from destroying government records.
Politifact had already taken a look at that claim, as it was also made by Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, a conservative youth activist, and called it ‘pants on fire.’
Experts told the fact-checker that Pelosi did not violate the law because her copy of the president’s speech wasn’t technically a government record.
‘Her copy of the State of the Union address is not a government record or goverment property at all,’ Douglas Cox, a professor of law at the City of New York University of Law told Politifact. ‘It is personal property.’
During Gaetz’s appearance, Ingraham also cast doubt on his argument that Pelosi was a law-breaker.
The Fox News Channel host did buy another point Gaetz made – that there was a double standard.
‘And you know what, a lot of Republicans are sick of the double standard here,’ Gaetz said.
The Florida Republican reminded the Fox audience of the ‘excited utterance’ made in September 2009 by Republican Rep. Joe Wilson when President Obama was addressing a joint session of Congress on the topic of healthcare.
Wilson shouted ‘You lie!’ at the Democratic president – a shocking outburst at the time.
‘The Democrats really brought the heat down on him when he said Obama lied about illegals getting healthcare,’ Gaetz said, adding that he agreed with Wilson’s sentiment.
On Thursday, Pelosi defended ripping up the speech by pointing out what she saw as a double standard.
‘It is OK to start saying “four more years!” in the House of Representatives?’ she asked reporters at a press conference on Capitol Hill. ‘It’s just unheard of.’
Republicans had started the chant during their time in the House chamber Tuesday night.
Pelosi had been asked if her actions went against what she preached – to react to the president with respect.
She said they did not.
‘I tore up a manifesto of mistruths,’ she told reporters.
‘It’s necessary to get the attention of the American people and say: “This is not true. And this is how it affects you.” And I don’t need any lessons from anybody – especially the President of the United States – about dignity,’ the California Democrat added.
Trump spent Thursday going after Pelosi – knocking her, without saying her name, at the National Prayer Breakfast, before calling her a ‘vicious, horrible person’ during an East Room speech where he celebrated his impeachment acquittal.
As for Gaetz, Trump made it clear he supported the Florida lawmaker.
‘He’s solid as a rock,’ the president said.
Gaetz was one of the invited members of Congress, all Republican, to hear the speech.
‘Great job,’ Trump said.