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Mike Pence’s former chief of staff hits back at Matt Gaetz, saying he’ll likely be ‘in prison for child sex trafficking’ — in what looks like a growing schism in Trumpworld

Matt Gaetz

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

  • Former Mike Pence aide Marc Short defended the former VP against Rep. Matt Gaetz on CNN Monday.

  • Short said he didn’t think Gaetz “will have an impact” on whether Pence wins the presidency in 2024.

  • “It’s more likely that he’ll be in prison for child sex trafficking by 2024,” Short said of Gaetz.

Former Vice President Mike Pence’s top aide took a swing at embattled Florida congressman Matt Gaetz on Monday.

Pence’s former chief of staff Marc Short suggested that Gaetz would be heading to prison soon due to a federal probe focused on child sex trafficking allegations against him.

The remarks were the latest in a back-and-forth between Trump loyalists and those in the former vice president’s camp that point to a growing divide in the Republican party.

Speaking on Sunday at the right-wing group Turning Point USA’s student conference, Gaetz downplayed Pence’s qualifications as a leader and emphatically stated that “our America is proudly ultra-MAGA.”

“Let me just say what everyone here knows,” Gaetz said. “Mike Pence will never be president.”

In an interview with CNN, Short brushed off the comments and lobbed an insult of his own.

“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 — in fact, I’d be surprised if he’s still voting,” Short said. “It’s more likely that 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.”

A spokesperson for Gaetz told Insider: “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 comments are particularly surprising in light of how supportive conservative figures have been of Gaetz. Time magazine reported that former President Donald Trump even privately autographed a printed copy of a Washington Examiner article on the Gaetz scandal, writing: “Matt, This is Great. Keep fighting – You will WIN!”

But Short’s position as a former Pence staffer might speak to the growing rift between Pence and Trump. Olivia Troye, a former Pence aide, said last week that it is “a known thing in Pence’s orbit” that he intends to run for president. This would put the former vice president on a direct collision course with his ex-boss, Trump, who has long teased a 2024 run.

Short also confirmed on Monday that he testified last week before a grand jury investigating the January 6 Capitol attack, per CNN. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported as well on Monday that Greg Jacob — another former Pence aide and the ex-vice president’s general counsel — also gave testimony.

Gaetz has remained a steadfast Trump loyalist despite the sex-trafficking investigation into him that kicked off in the early months of 2021. The FBI and the Department of Justice are probing whether Gaetz broke sex trafficking laws and had sexual relations with a minor. The congressman has denied all wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.

The sentencing for Gaetz’s former friend — ex-Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg — has been repeatedly delayed while Greenberg cooperates with investigators, including on the Gaetz investigation, ABC News reported.

Rumors have swirled that Gaetz might be implicated in the Greenberg probe, especially after the Daily Beast reported that the Florida lawmaker sent multiple cash payments via Venmo to Greenberg, one of which was labeled with a “love hotel emoji.” Greenberg then sent the cash payments on to young women with labels like “ass,” “stuff,” “tuition,” and “school,” according to the Beast.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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