Rep. Matt Gaetz is denying that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
The New York Times reported that the Justice Department is investigating a possible sexual relationship with the underage girl and whether Gaetz paid for her to travel with him.
The Florida Republican said in a statement to CNN that
“no part of the allegations against me are true” and that the claims were being pushed by people who are targets of an “ongoing extortion investigation.”
Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name.
We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals.”
The planted leak to the New York Times tonight was intended to thwart that investigation. No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation.
I demand the DOJ immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicate their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations.”
In an interview on Fox News, Gaetz strongly denied the accusations and accused a former Department of Justice prosecutor of attempting to extort him and his family over the allegations. The congressman named the former prosecutor.
Carlson said afterward,
“That was one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted.
That story just appeared in the news a couple of hours ago. And on the certainty that there’s always more than you read in the newspaper, we immediately called Matt Gaetz and asked him to come on and tell us more which, as you saw, he did. I don’t think that clarified much. But it certainly showed this is a deeply interesting story and we will be following it.
Don’t quite understand it, but we will bring you more when we find out.”
“The person doesn’t exist. I have not had a relationship with a 17-year-old. That is totally false. The allegation is, as I read in the New York Times is, I have traveled with some 17-year-old in some relationship. That is false and records will bear that out to be false,”
DOJ declined to comment. In a statement to CNN, the FBI in Jacksonville said,
“The FBI declines to confirm nor deny the existence or status of an investigation. We refer you to the Department of Justice for further comment regarding this report.”
The statement came after the New York Times reported that three people briefed on the matter said that the DOJ’s investigation is part of a broader investigation.
A person briefed on the matter told CNN,
Federal authorities are investigating Gaetz as part of a broader probe into trafficking allegations against another Florida politician. That politician is Joel Greenberg, a former county official in Central Florida who was arrested last year on charges that include sex trafficking of a minor. Greenberg has pleaded not guilty and is set to go on trial. The person said the probe of Gaetz was opened in the closing months of the Trump-era Justice Department, and is an outgrowth of the Greenberg investigation. Public integrity prosecutors in Washington, DC, and Tampa are overseeing the Gaetz investigation, the person added.
The investigation had been opened by former Attorney General Bill Barr in the final months of the Trump administration, the people told the Times. Gaetz told the newspaper in an interview that his lawyers had been in contact with the Justice Department.
“I only know that it has to do with women. I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”
As of this writing no charges have been filed against Gaetz. But as we reported yesterday, Gaetz is possibly leaving his Congressional gig for a job at Newsmax. Huh? Something smells fishy…?