Two people familiar with the matter said Gaetz tried to schedule a visit with Trump after it was first revealed that he was being investigated, but the request was rejected by aides close to the former President, who have urged Trump not to stick his neck out to defend Gaetz. Harlan Hill, a spokesman for Gaetz, said the congressman did not request a meeting with Trump this week.
“Rep. Gaetz was welcomed to Trump Doral this week and has not sought to meet with President Trump himself,” Hill said in a statement to CNN, claiming that Gaetz has “been mostly relaxing with his fiancée this week during recess.”
Following repeated requests for comment, Trump spokesman Jason Miller wrote in a tweet on Sunday evening that Gaetz did not request a meeting “and therefore, it could never have been denied.”
Gaetz has continued to deny all allegations against him and has not been charged with any crimes.
Meanwhile, Gaetz’s appearance on Friday at a conference for pro-Trump women raised eyebrows inside the former President’s orbit. Aides saw his last-minute speech at the Women for America First event, which was held at the nearby Trump National Doral resort, as a blatant attempt to reach Trump and his supporters.
A person directly involved with Trump’s post-presidential operation said the ex-President’s aides “were under the impression that Gaetz went down there to try and run into Trump or people around him.”
Gaetz, who was announced as a “special guest” only days before the summit began, used his time on stage to denounce “wild conspiracy theories” about his personal life, and to reaffirm his plans to remain on Capitol Hill.
“I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere,” he told the crowd.
This story has been updated with comment from a Trump spokesman.