Matt Gaetz evokes ‘standing by’ language adopted by Proud Boys as he attends court with Donald Trump

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz evoked language adopted by the far-right Proud Boys extremist group as he appeared at court Thursday to support Donald Trump at his hush money trial, reflecting the undercurrent of activist elements present among the presumptive GOP nominee’s supporters as he seeks a return to the White House.

“Standing back, and standing by, Mr. President,” Gaetz wrote as he posted a photo on social media of him with other congressional Republicans standing behind Trump in a hallway outside the courtroom where the former president’s felony case is in its fourth week of testimony.

The Proud Boys — whose leaders were convicted of seditious conspiracy after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — have used that verbiage since Trump, during a 2020 campaign debate, said: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

That came in response to a question from debate moderator Chris Wallace asking if Trump would condemn white supremacist and militia groups that had shown up at some social justice protests across the country that summer following the death of George Floyd.

“I don’t know who the Proud Boys are,” Trump said a day later, after facing widespread criticism for his failure to condemn their

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