Rep. Matt Gaetz’s ‘If Russia Wanted to Destabilize Ukraine, Putin Didn’t Need to Send Tanks’ Tweet

On March 1 2022, an Imgur user shared a purported screenshot from Twitter, apparently showing a tweet by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a response:

In the top tweet, author Jessica Shortall (@jessicashortall) commented: “This is weird, right?” Underneath her tweet, a tweet attributed to Gaetz was quoted; the words “Russia” and “We” were circled in red.

Fact Check

Claim: On February 28 2022, Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted: "If Russia wanted to destabilize Ukraine, Putin didn’t need to send tanks. We could’ve just sent Dr. Fauci."

Description: On February 28 2022, Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted, suggesting that if Russia wanted to destabilize Ukraine, they didn’t need tanks but could have sent Dr. Fauci. The claim is about whether or not this tweet hints at an allegiance to Russia. There was significant discussion and debate among social media users regarding the interpretation of Gaetz’s tweet.

Rating: True

Rating Explanation: The tweet made by Rep. Matt Gaetz is real, unedited, and correctly depicted. The suggestion of an allegiance to Russia within the tweet, however, remains largely unverified.

Gaetz’s tweet read:

If Russia wanted to destabilize Ukraine, Putin didn’t need to send tanks.

We could’ve just sent Dr. Fauci.

In the screenshot of Gaetz’s tweet, he began with “If Russia wanted to destabilize Ukraine,” concluding with “We could’ve just sent Dr. Fauci”; his usage of “we” in proximity to “Russia” being the highlighted part.

Commenters replied to the post, debating whether the inference was meaningful:

“So not “They could have just sent Dr. Fauci” “We” could have. Like Putin’s Russia and Trump’s GOP are on the same side. Telling language.”

“I dunno, the guy’s an asshole, but he clearly means “Americans.” Pronouns are inherently vague when you’re discussing multiple entities … No need to get creative and arbitrary about interpreting what they mean to score a “gotcha” wholly independent of what they intend.”

“Yeah. He’s saying “we” as in “we here in the US could have just sent…” Gaetz is a piece of shit for sure but this is weak.”

“True, but offering the idea of US actions to benefit Russian interests is weird. Yeah it’s just a bad joke, but that assumption is built in[.]”

“Saying the quiet part out loud, again and again and again. And still people don’t believe.”

“So I hate this dude with a passion. But this analysis is really stretching it. His grammar is correct here. Putin doesn’t have Fauci. We do. Thus, “we” could have sent Fauci is accurate.”

“How dumb do you have to be not to realize that this ‘joke’ aligns you with a dictator trying to destabilize democracy?”

Shortall’s tweet was real, tweeted early on the morning of March 1 2022. Gaetz’s tweet also existed; it was tweeted on the afternoon of February 28 2022:

A popular March 1 2022 Imgur post featured a real tweet by Rep. Matt Gaetz, in which he said if “Russia wanted to destabilize Ukraine … We could’ve just sent Dr. Fauci.” Commenters debated whether the tweet hinted at an allegiance to Russia, but intent was largely impossible to verify. In any event, the tweet was real, unedited, and correctly depicted.