Matt Gaetz Parrots Trump’s Call To Proud Boys At His Trial

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Thursday ominously invoked Donald Trump’s call to far-right violent extremists while joining the former president at his criminal trial in New York.

“Standing back and standing by, Mr. President,” Gaetz wrote on social media, along with a photo of himself positioned behind Trump at his trial.

The phrase is a reference to Trump infamously refusing to condemn heavily armed white supremacists, namely the neo-fascist Proud Boys, during a September 2020 presidential debate. The Proud Boys had been tied to violence that summer in cities including Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” is all Trump finally said in the debate, before trying to blame others for violence.

I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing problem,” he said.

As HuffPost editor Andy Campbell reported in his book on the Proud Boys, the group put Trump’s statement on T-shirts and saw a surge of new recruits and revenue from merchandise. They also took that phrase as marching orders and actively declared civil war when Trump said it.

Several Proud Boys were later convicted of seditious conspiracy for helping lead the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Gaetz is one of several GOP lawmakers who have flocked to Trump’s trial in recent days to show their allegiance to him and carry out his attacks on the rule of law, which Trump can no longer do since he’s under a gag order.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a far-right congressman who spoke at a rally in February sponsored by the Proud Boys, appeared alongside Gaetz on Thursday. So did Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who was heckled as she spoke outside the courthouse.

Someone shouted “Beetlejuice” at her while she spoke, a reference to her being kicked out of a Denver theater last year for vaping and groping her date during a musical production of the movie.

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