- President Donald Trump mixed up the names of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rick Gates, a former aide who was convicted after pleading guilty to crimes related to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
- Gaetz has been one of Trump’s most vocal supporters.
- Rick Gates, the man Trump appeared to confuse the Florida representative for, was not present at the rally.
- Gates in 2018 pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and false statements during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
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During a campaign rally Friday night, President Donald Trump mixed up the names of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rick Gates, a former aide who was convicted after pleading guilty to crimes related to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Gaetz is one of Trump’s staunchest supporters. Trump, pointing to Gaetz sitting off camera, referred to him multiple times as “Rick Gates” or “Rick.”
The botched names first came up as Trump tore into Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who last week was the target of an attempted kidnap. The FBI identified and arrested a group of men they say are responsible for the plot. Whitmer after the arrests criticized Trump for his rhetoric, calling him “complicit” in stoking extreme violence in the United States.
“Then she said it was my fault,” said Trump, referring to Whitmer’s statements against him. “It was my people that caught them. It was Trump’s fault. It’s always Trump’s fault.”
“Can it ever be, like, Rick Gates’ fault?” Trump continued, pointing to Gaetz. “I mean, eh? It’s always Trump’s fault, Rick.”
—Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) October 17, 2020
Gates was not present at the rally. In February 2018 during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Gates pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and false statements. In addition to a three-year probation, he was sentenced to 45 days in jail, a $20,000 fine, and 300 hours of community service.
Continuing his speech, Trump again referred to Gaetz by the wrong name.
He ranted about “shameless, wealthy, liberal hypocrites in Washington, D.C.” and in Silicon Valley, saying they back Democratic candidates. Trump said he doesn’t want their money and suggested they raise funds for the Democrats because they view him as a threat.
“We are going to win,” Trump said. “That’s why they raise money. I could raise much more money. Every call I make. Every single guy, even though they hated me, they’d all contribute. But Rick, you understand it, I don’t want to make those calls.”
After his riffs, Trump finally referred to Gaetz by the correct name, asking him to stand up.
“Matt’s been another one of our stars,” he said. “He’s done some special job. How are we doing in Florida, Matt?” he asked.
Neither Gaetz’s office nor the Trump 2020 campaign immediately returned a request for comment from Business Insider.