Marc Short, former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, on Monday dismissed comments from Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) about Pence’s presidential prospects, adding that he would be surprised if the Florida congressman isn’t convicted of child sex trafficking by the time of the 2024 election.
CNN’s Erin Burnett asked Short to react to part of a speech Gaetz gave Monday at a conference organized by Turning Point USA, a right-wing youth activist group. Gaetz declared, “Our America is proudly ultra MAGA, not some low energy roadside RINO safari. On that note, let me just say what everybody here knows: Mike Pence will never be president. Nice guy, not a leader.”
Short responded by saying he wasn’t sure if his former boss, who is expected to deliver a speech in Washington, D.C. around the time that former President Donald Trump is set to make his first return to the district since leaving office, would throw his hat in the ring. Regardless of Pence’s decision, Short said, “I don’t think Matt Gaetz will have an impact on that.”
“In fact, I would be surprised if he’s still voting. It’s more likely he’ll be in prison for child sex trafficking by 2024,” Short, who has testified before the Jan. 6 grand jury, said. “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 what Matt Gaetz thinks.”
Gaetz is under an FBI investigation for alleged sex trafficking of a minor and payouts to multiple women for sex. The investigation, which began in the closing months of the Trump administration, grew out of an investigation into Joel Greenberg, a friend of Gaetz’s who is cooperating with authorities after pleading guilty last May to six charges of sex trafficking. Gaetz’ ex-girlfriend is also cooperating.
Gaetz paid $900 to Greenberg, who in turn made payments through Venmo to three young women totaling that amount, The Daily Beast reported last April. In January, The Daily Beast also reported that Joseph Ellicott, a close friend of Greenberg’s, heard him tell Gaetz in a Sept. 4, 2017, phone call that Gaetz had had sex with a 17-year-old. Gaetz has denied doing so, telling The Daily Beast in a text message last March, “The last time I had a sexual relationship with a seventeen year old, I was seventeen.”
In the closing weeks of Trump’s term, Gaetz asked the then-president for a pardon “from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things,” according to testimony by Eric Herschmann, a Trump White House lawyer who spoke to the House Jan. 6 committee.