Gaetz echoes Trump’s Proud Boys call to ‘stand back and stand by’ amid courthouse appearance

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) echoed former President Trump’s infamous 2020 call for the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” in a statement from the Manhattan courthouse Thursday.

“Standing back and standing by, Mr. President,” Gaetz wrote in a post on the social platform X, along with a photo of himself in a hallway outside the courtroom, donning a red tie and suit in the background, with an out-of-focus Trump in the foreground.

Trump was asked during a presidential debate with President Biden in 2020 whether he would denounce violence from white supremacy groups. He dodged the question, but after Biden mentioned the far-right group, Trump said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

Leaders of the Proud Boys were convicted of seditious conspiracy after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Jeremy Joseph Bertino, a member of the group, told the House committee that investigated the Capitol attack that membership for the Proud Boys “tripled, probably,” after Trump made his debate comments, The Associated Press reported. Bertino pleaded guilty to plotting with other members to violently stop the transfer of presidential power after Trump lost the 2020 election to Biden.

Trump the next day said, “I don’t know who the Proud Boys are,” after facing widespread criticism. He added, “Whoever they are, they have to stand down. Let law enforcement do their work.”

Trump was immediately eviscerated by Democrats for making those comments, while the Proud Boys group celebrated Trump’s remark — sharing a new logo that included the phrase “stand back and stand by.”

A spokesperson for Gaetz declined to comment further on the lawmaker’s post, saying in an emailed statement, “the tweet speaks for itself.”

Gaetz was among the cast of Republican lawmakers who attended the Manhattan criminal trial this week in a show of support for the former president.

Gaetz on Thursday joined GOP Reps. Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mike Waltz (Fla.) and Eli Crane (Ariz.) in the courtroom, while Reps. Andy Ogles (Tenn.) Anna Paulina Luna (Fla.), Ralph Norman (S.C.) and House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (Va.) were also seen at the Manhattan courthouse.

Boebert and Gaetz were spotted sitting in the first row of the gallery, next to Eric Trump and the former president’s Secret Service agents. Good was also seen seated in the first row, on the other side of Trump’s security detail.

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records over an alleged repayment scheme to Michael Cohen, Trump’s then-fixer, who had paid porn actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 ahead of the 2016 election to stay quiet about an alleged affair with Trump. The former president denies the affair, says there was no wrongdoing with the payments and has pleaded not guilty.

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