Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who was literally the only person to vote against a 2017 bi-partisan anti-sex trafficking bill, is now reportedly being investigated for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and violating laws against sex trafficking in the process. Gaetz told the publication that the Justice Department informed his lawyers that he was the subject and not the target of the Greenberg investigation.
The inquiry is part of a broader probe into Joel Greenberg, a local official in Florida associated with Gaetz, who was indicted last summer on an array of sex trafficking charges, including financially supporting an underage girl in exchange for sex. Numerous laws deem it sex trafficking to solicit a minor across state lines in exchange for money.
Because of Gaetz's national profile, senior Justice Department officials, including some appointed by Trump, were reportedly informed of the investigation being opened a year ago. He demanded the Justice Department release the recordings.
The Times alleges there were sexual encounters between Gaetz and "the girl" about two years ago that "investigators are scrutinizing, according to two of the people".
"I believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to criminalize my sexual conduct, you know, when I was a single guy", Gaetz told Axios. "I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward", Gaetz said in a statement. You know, I've paid for flights, for hotel rooms.
Gaetz said the allegations against him are false and rooted in an extortion effort to smear his name for $25 million.
The congressman said the allegations against him are being pushed by "targets of the ongoing extortion investigation".
Gaetz said his family has been cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and said his father was wearing a recording device, at the FBI's direction, "to catch these criminals". "I don't think that clarified much, but it certainly showed this is a deeply interesting story and we'll be following it".