Fabiola Santiago

Florida Gov. DeSantis, Trump’s former errand boy in Congress, is back on the job | Opinion

The incendiary tone of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ letter is shocking.

Subject line of the email blast: Announcement on Impeachment.

Sender: The Republican Party of Florida.

“When I served in Congress, I fought back against the Democrats’ witch hunts every single day,” DeSantis writes. “I REFUSED to let them overturn the 2016 election and erase your vote from history. Now the Democrats are officially moving to impeach our duly elected president, my duty to protect him isn’t over.”

And then, in bold letters, the last phrase underlined, DeSantis proclaims: “As Governor of Florida, I want the president to know that we have his back in this fight 100%, so today I’m issuing the Presidential Protection Fund to fight back against this disgusting attempt to overturn a legitimate U.S. election.”

And with that, he sends people to a Florida GOP site with lots of red donation boxes to choose from: “Please make a contribution to our Presidential Protection Fund and join me in defending President Donald J. Trump from impeachment.”

After the money pitch, DeSantis’ angry rant continues — and it becomes very clear that Trump’s errand boy in Congress is back on the job.

He, who was one of the loudest voices criticizing the Robert Mueller investigation into meddling in our 2016 elections and the possible collusion of the Trump campaign.

He, who, as the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald bureau reported, launched lots of investigations into the Obama administration. Talk about a witch hunt.

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As governor, DeSantis shouldn’t be meddling in Washington’s affairs now.

It’s not appropriate for DeSantis — who is supposed to represent all Floridians — to be personally leading fundraising for the legal impeachment defense of a president accused of serious abuses of power. Shouldn’t such highly partisan tasks be left to the party bosses?

DeSantis certainly doesn’t speak for all of Florida.

Or have he and the GOP forgotten the Independents, the McCain #NeverTrump Republicans and the Democrats who live in the state, too? Not everyone subscribes to the Trump cult.

He should worry more about leading fractured Florida.

Since his election, the governor has acted on several occasions in a bipartisan manner, or at least tried to give that appearance.

But this letter — along with divisive moves such as embracing Trump’s harsh anti-immigrant policies and his all-talk, little-walk on the environment — shreds his credibility on bipartisanship.

It’s clear Republicans only desire one-way bipartisanship — when it’s convenient for them.

“Now the swamp is scared to death that the American people will support President Trump in 2020, so they’re trying to avoid the election and remove him from office by force,” DeSantis writes in the letter. “They should be scared, because with your help, We The People will end this impeachment inquiry and stand with him again in 2020 — and our great state of Florida will play the leading role in delivering that victory.”

Again, he underestimates Floridians and who “We The People” includes.

Floridians didn’t elect him to manhandle national elections, but DeSantis largely owes his win to Trump.

The president’s endorsement helped DeSantis win the Republican primary over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, another Trump supporter with more name recognition at the time than the congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach.

The people of Florida, all of them, should be DeSantis’ first priority, not what happens to Trump in Washington for asking the Ukrainian leader to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, and his son.

Isn’t DeSantis the one who said the Democrats in Congress should focus on “issues that really matter” instead of the politics of removing a treasonous president from office?

His spokeswoman, Helen Aguirre Ferré, reiterated the sentiment in a statement she sent me Tuesday.

“Governor DeSantis is concerned by the various politically motivated investigations against President Trump, which sidesteps Congress’ obligation to work on issues Americans care most about, such as maintaining low unemployment, a strong economy and public safety,” she said.

How about he focus on the issues that really matter in Florida?

The president is a big boy. He can defend himself. More than help, DeSantis’ desperate call to donate to the defense of a billionaire only makes Trump look guiltier. There must be merit when DeSantis is already raising funds for his legal defense, no?

When Trump asked the Russians in 2016 in front of reporters and cameras in Miami to hack into more of Hillary Clinton’s emails, he got away with it by saying he was joking. This time, there’s a transcript of the call asking a foreign power to intervene in our elections.

DeSantis says in his letter that Democrats are out to get Trump because “he doesn’t come from the political establishment,” which DeSantis claims is “bought and paid for by the swamp.”

Does the governor not read campaign contribution reports, including his own?

And speaking of The Swamp ... DeSantis’ first public reaction to news that House Democrats would pursue impeachment was milder than his outrage now.

The frequent Fox News contributor told reporters at a news conference that the move to impeach was political “theater” and he was glad to be out of the “charade” in Washington.

But DeSantis didn’t really leave The Swamp charade, in which he fully participated.

He just moved the show center stage to Florida.

And we do swampy deeper than most.

Award-winning columnist Fabiola Santiago has been writing about all things Miami since 1980, when the Mariel boatlift became her first front-page story. A Cuban refugee child of the Freedom Flights, she’s also the author of essays, short fiction, and the novel “Reclaiming Paris.”
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