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First GOP lawmakers calls for Gaetz’s resignation

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The first congressional Republican has called for the resignation of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), whom the Justice Department is investigating for alleged sex with a minor and possibly violating federal sex trafficking laws.

On Thursday night, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) tweeted: “Matt Gaetz needs to resign.” His tweet shared a Daily Beast report that Gaetz had paid alleged sex trafficker Joel Greenberg, an associate of his, $900, which Greenberg sent hours later to three teenage girls. Greenberg, who is facing dozens of charges, is reportedly expected to strike a plea deal with federal prosecutors in his criminal case.

RELATED: Lawmakers urge Gaetz to resign as new details of DOJ probe emerge

Kinzinger, who’s served in the House since 2011, has made a name for himself more recently for not being afraid to go after fellow Republicans when he feels they need to be held accountable. Notably, he was one of 10 House GOP lawmakers to vote in favor of impeaching former President Donald Trump shortly following the January 6 Capitol riot. The Illinois Republican also voted to strip GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) of her committee assignments back in February.

Last week, The New York Times was the first to report that the Justice Department was investigating Gaetz over allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paying for her travel. The Florida Republican has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying he’s “absolutely not resigning.”

MORE ON REP. GAETZ: ‘Women’ of Gaetz’s office sign letter defending congressman

Significantly, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has said that Republicans would support stripping Gaetz of his committee assignments if these allegations are proven to be true.

“Those are serious implications. If it comes out to be true, yes, we would remove him if that’s the case,” McCarthy told Fox News last week. “But right now Matt Gaetz says that it’s not true and we don’t have any information. So let’s get all the information.”

MORE ON REP. GAETZ: Fmr. Gaetz staffer says FBI agents questioned him with ‘baseless claim’

In the wake of last week’s revelations from The Times, new sex-related allegations against Gaetz have arisen.

Thursday last week, CNN, citing multiple sources, reported that the vocal Trump ally would allegedly show fellow lawmakers—even while on the House floor—photos and videos of women he had sex with. Gaetz has denied this.

A female GOP insider also reportedly told Business Insider in a piece last Friday that when Gaetz used to serve in the Florida statehouse, he and other lawmakers would play a “sex challenge” game, something which had been previously reported in lesser detail.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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