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Matt Gaetz Called Out For Proud Boys Reference As He Supported Trump At Courthouse

Matt Gaetz shared a photo of himself supporting Donald Trump at his Manhattan trial with a questionable reference to one of Trump's lines from a 2020 debate.

Matt Gaetz; Donald Trump
Angela Weiss-Pool/Getty Images, Steven Hirsch-Pool/Getty Images

Far-right MAGA Representative Matt Gaetz was excoriated for invoking the Proud Boys as he expressed support for former Republican President Donald Trump outside the courthouse of Trump's Manhattan election interference trial, now in its fourth week of testimony.

The Proud Boys is a neo-fascist group that engages in political violence. Its leaders have been convicted of seditious conspiracy relating to a plot to derail the presidential transfer of power culminating in the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Gaetz shared a photo of him standing with his fellow GOP congressional leaders behind Trump in a hallway outside a Lower Manhattan courtroom on Thursday.

The photo was captioned with:

“Standing back, and standing by, Mr. President."


The phrase was a nod to when Trump signaled to the militant organization during a campaign debate in the 2020 election.

He said at the time:

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

Trump's instruction was in response to moderator Chris Wallace asking him if he would condemn the tactics of White supremacist groups that were appearing at social justice demonstrations across the country following the murder of Black American citizen George Floyd at the hands of a White police officer.

Proud Boys leaders and supporters interpreted Trump's message as validation and co-opted the phrase on social media to bolster recruitment.

Gaetz's post overtly alluding to the Proud Boys prompted ridicule.

Social media users didn't hesitate to mention that Gaetz remains under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegations of sex trafficking and sexual relations with minors.

Gaetz is one of several GOP leaders, including Speaker Mike Johnson and Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville, to make the trek to New York to appear at the courthouse to support Trump.

The presumptive 2024 GOP nominee has pleaded not guilty to felony counts related to falsifying business records to benefit his 2016 presidential campaign by covering up hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels with whom he had an alleged sexual encounter.

Aside from Eric Trump, who has made regular appearances in court, other members of the ex-President's family were notably absent, including his children Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and wife Melania Trump.