The Justice Department is investigating whether Rep. Matt Gaetz, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, had a possible sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him. The conservative Florida Republican confirmed the investigation to Axios hours after the New York Times reported that investigators are looking into whether the 38-year-old had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and violated sex-trafficking laws by paying for her to travel with him.
Perino also asked McCarthy whether he knew why Gaetz voted against 2017 legislation related to human trafficking, to which McCarthy replied, "No, I have no idea whatsoever why he would vote against that". He later tweeted that the Times report was based on a leak that he believes was an attempt to stymie an elaborate extortion investigation that he claimed to be helping the feds build against his accusers - whom he said may have involved a former DOJ employee who was out to shake him down for money.
Republican congressman Matt Gaetz. Last night, the much-maligned congressman lowkey tried to implicate Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson (and his wife) into his sex abuse allegations during an unusual interview on live television. The investigation began in the final months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William P. Barr, according to the report.
"That was one of the weirdest interviews I've ever conducted", Carlson said in a follow-up.
The probe has been under way for almost a year and Gaetz has been aware for months that he was under investigation, the person said.
The Florida congressman told The Times, "I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward".
Gaetz alleges the investigation is connected to an attempt to extort him and his family by a former DOJ official.
Gaetz said his family has been co-operating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and said his father was wearing a recording device, at the FBI's direction, "to catch these criminals". The sources said the Gaetz investigation was connected to the investigation of Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector in Florida who was indicted previous year on charges including sex trafficking of a child.
"The allegations against me are as searing as they are false", Gaetz, who represents Florida's 1st Congressional District, told Axios. "You were accused of something you did not do, so you know what this feels like".
"No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation", the statement said. Gaetz has not been charged "and the extent of his criminal exposure is unclear", according to the Times. I've been, you know, generous as a partner. "And so, I do believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to smear me", he explained.
Neither Gaetz's office nor a Fox News spokesperson immediately responded to a request for comment from The Washington Post early on Wednesday morning.