“I’m made out as an uncritical cheerleader for the Trump administration, and that isn’t true,” he says, pointing to several areas of disagreement with the White House, such as the wide ideological rift between himself and Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, over medical marijuana. Gaetz has also called on Trump to release his tax returns.

But the Florida Republican makes frequent appearances on cable news shows, and watching him, it’s difficult to think he has more than one viewer in mind. When talking about the Russia investigation, the FBI, or the Justice Department, he says exactly what Trump wants to hear—that Trump is “getting a raw deal.”

And the president has taken notice. Trump frequently calls Gaetz to talk after seeing him on TV, the lawmaker tells me. “One time he said, ‘Good morning, Matt. It’s your favorite president,’ ” Gaetz recalls of a recent phone call from Trump. He refuses to say just how many times Trump has called him after seeing him on the cable shows, but he admits it’s “often.”