Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., has filed a complaint with the House Committee on Ethics, contending that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have violated House rules, and possibly violated federal law, when she ripped a copy of President Donald Trump‘ State of the Union speech.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has filed an ethics complaint against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, alleging that her tearing of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address violated the House Code of Conduct and may have violated federal law.
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In a letter to the House Committee on Ethics dated Wednesday, the day after the State of the Union, Gaetz contends, “Speaker Pelosi‘s gesture was deeply offense (sic), and appears to violate clauses 1 and 2 of House Rule XXIII (”Code of Official Conduct“).”
BREAKING: I'm filing an ethics complaint against @SpeakerPelosi for destroying @realDonaldTrump's State of the Union speech.
Her conduct was beneath the dignity of the House, and a potential violation of law (18 USC 2071).
Nobody is above the law. She must be held accountable. pic.twitter.com/dXPPWQNtI8
Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, further contends that Pelosi‘s action “reflects poorly on her Speakership, and on the House of Representatives as a whole.” He adds that Pelosi’s ripping of her copy of the State of the Union address has “brought discredit on the entire House.”
Gaetz also suggests that Pelosi might have violated provisions of federal law which cover the mutilation of records filed “in any public office” and that also address sanctions for custodians of such records, which can include fines, imprisonment or forfeiture of office.
“There is no question that Speaker Pelosi ‘mutilated, obliterated or destroyed’ the copy of the President‘s address provided to her at the beginning of the evening’,” Gaetz wrote in referring to the federal statutes that form the basis for part of his complaint.
Asked after the speech why she ripped her copy, Pelosi told reporters, "because it was a courteous thing to do considering the alternative. It was such a dirty speech."
In addition to making a legal argument to the House Committee on Ethics, Gaetz‘s two-page, single-spaced letter to the committee takes a decidedly political turn.
“Far from being an exercise in partisanship, the President‘s remarks were an uplifting celebration of the diversity of the American experience and the triumph of the American spirit,” Gaetz wrote.
And then, commenting on Pelosi‘s action, Gaetz wrote, “It is hard to overlook the symbolism of such a gesture — the sense that Speaker Pelosi was utterly dismissive of the President’s achievements, and more importantly, the achievements of the American people.”
The offices of Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., chairman of the House Ethics Committee, and Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, the committee‘s ranking member, referred questions to the committee staff.
“No comment,” Tom Rust, the committee‘s chief counsel and staff director, said when asked if the committee had received Gaetz‘s complaint and how it would be handled.
The office of Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
Gaetz also did not respond immediately Thursday to a text message and a phone call from the Daily News. But in a Twitter post announcing the filing of the ethics complaint, Gaetz said Pelosi‘s “conduct was beneath the dignity of the House, and a potential violation of law ... . Nobody is above the law. She must be held accountable.”
Gaetz‘s ethics complaint is not the first time he has crossed paths with Pelosi. Last year, Gaetz suggested on Twitter that Michael Cohen, then Trump’s personal attorney and so-called “fixer,” was involved in extramarital relations and that those alleged affairs would be revealed to his family.
The tweet was posted on the eve of Cohen‘s testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, where Cohen accused Trump of criminal conduct in connection with a hush-money scheme involving a pornographic movie star.
Amid suggestions that the tweet was tantamount to witness tampering, Gaetz deleted it after Pelosi tweeted that House members should be “mindful that comments made on social media or in the press can adversely affect the ability of House Committees to obtain the truthful and complete information necessary to complete their duties.”
Gaetz subsequently apologized to Pelosi and Cohen, but the tweet also was referred to the Florida Bar. A Bar Grievance Committee found no probable cause that Gaetz, a lawyer, violated professional standards, but the committee did harshly criticize Gaetz.
In a letter to Gaetz, the Grievance Committee said his Twitter post regarding Cohen “was not consistent with the high standards of our profession” and did “not reflect favorably on you as a member of The Florida Bar.”