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Top Pence aide slams Gaetz for saying former VP can’t be president

Marc Short, a top aide to former Vice President Mike Pence, slammed Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) for telling a crowd over the weekend that Pence could never be president, saying that the congressman would have no impact on such an outcome because “it’s more likely he’ll be in prison for child sex trafficking by 2024.”

Short was referring to reports that Gaetz is under federal investigation for having sex with a 17-year-old girl and that he violated federal sex trafficking laws, allegations Gaetz has denied.

During a guest appearance by Short on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” on Monday, a clip of Gaetz’s remarks at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit was played in which the Florida Republican proclaimed, “Our America is proudly ultra MAGA, not some low-energy roadside rhino safari,” Gaetz said, referring to former President Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again.”

“On that note, let me just say what everybody here knows: Mike Pence will never be president,” Gaetz said to cheers from the crowd. “Nice guy. Not a leader.” 

When asked to respond by CNN host Erin Burnett, Short called out Gaetz for his reported pending legal issues. 

“Well, I don’t know if Mike Pence will run for president in 2024, but I don’t think Matt Gaetz will have an impact on that,” Short told Burnett. “In fact, I’d be surprised if he was still voting, it’s more likely he’ll be in prison for child sex trafficking by 2024.” 

“And I’m actually surprised that Florida law enforcement still allows him to speak to teenage conferences like that, so I’m not too worried about Matt Gaetz,” he added, referring to the event being attended by young conservative students.

A spokesperson for Gaetz responded in a statement to The Hill, saying, “Marc can repeat debunked conspiracies on CNN, but nobody can deny that dunking on Pence was Gaetz’s best applause line of an epic speech.”

Short’s appearance on CNN also included confirmation that he testified before a grand jury in Washington, D.C., on Friday in its investigation of Jan. 6, 2021. Short, who also served as Trump’s legislative affairs director, is the highest-profile Trump administration official to have appeared before the grand jury.

Short served as chief of staff to Pence for nearly two years and was in that role on the day of the Capitol riot, which is being investigated by the Justice Department as well as a select House committee.

Gaetz has denied the sex trafficking allegations, and no charges have been filed against him. The New York Times first reported the existence of the federal investigation into Gaetz in March 2021.

Updated: 12:40 p.m.

Tags CNN Department of Justice Erin Burnett Erin Burnett Jan. 6 Capitol riot Marc Short Marc Short Matt Gaetz Matt Gaetz Mike Pence Trump Turning Point USA
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