Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz is garnering heavy criticism after he appeared to compare the Taliban favorably to former President Donald Trump and claimed both are "more legitimate" than the Biden administration.
Gaetz made the claim on Wednesday, August 18 in response to an article from the right-wing blog The Drill Down that had been shared by Fox News personality Sean Hannity.
The Drill Down's staff criticized Twitter for banning ex-President Trump for inciting the Capitol riot but allowing Taliban spokespeople to still use the platform.
Gaetz weighed in, arguing both the Taliban and Trump should be allowed to use Twitter:
"[The] Taliban and Trump should both be on Twitter."
"[They are] More legitimate than the last government in Afghanistan or the current government here."
Gaetz received scathing criticism for his remarks and was accused of sympathizing with terrorist groups.
Others drew comparisons between the Taliban's inhumane treatment of women and the federal sex trafficking of a minor investigation in which Gaetz has been embroiled.
Spokesmen for the Taliban used Twitter to broadcast updates to hundreds of thousands of followers. Twitter has not commented explicitly about the Taliban's use of its platform.
When asked for comment, a Twitter spokesperson pointed to the company's standards against hate speech.
"The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving. We're also witnessing people in the country using Twitter to seek help and assistance."
"Twitter's top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant."
"We will continue to proactively enforce our rules and review content that may violate Twitter Rules, specifically policies against glorification of violence, platform manipulation and spam."
Federal authorities are investigating Gaetz on child sex trafficking charges after it emerged the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched a probe into whether he paid a 17-year-old girl and took her across state lines for sexual purposes.
Gaetz denied allegations he violated sex trafficking laws and engaged in other sexual misconduct while in office by citing the age of consent.
In May, Gaetz's associate Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector in Seminole County, Florida, formally pleaded guilty to six federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor.
He also pleaded guilty to producing a false identification document, identity theft, wire fraud, stalking and conspiracy.
Though Gaetz repeatedly defended Trump, the former President and his allies have reportedly chosen to distance themselves from Gaetz after news of the DOJ's investigation emerged.
Trump also denied Gaetz directly asked him for a blanket pardon after The New York Timesreported Gaetz met with him and his associates.