The Justice Department is investigating whether or not Rep. Matt Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a minor and paid for her to journey with him, in line with a brand new report.
The Florida Republican and ally of former President Donald Trump responded to the stories claiming he’s the sufferer of legal extortion involving a former Justice Department official.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Gaetz, 38, is being checked out as a part of a broader investigation into native Florida official Joel Greenberg, a political ally who was indicted final summer time on an array of fees, together with intercourse trafficking of a minor and financially supporting individuals in alternate for intercourse, at the very least one in every of whom was an underage lady.
The report mentioned investigators are analyzing whether or not Gaetz violated federal intercourse trafficking legal guidelines in his encounters two years in the past with a woman believed to have been 17 on the time.
Gaetz issued a series of tweets saying he’s cooperating with federal authorities and claiming he has turn into the goal of “false” accusations.
“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,” he mentioned. “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 FBI tonight was intended to thwart that investigation,” Gaetz added. “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.”
Gaetz acknowledged to Axios that he financially supported romantic companions however insisted his actions had been by no means legal.
“I have definitely, in my single days, provided for women I’ve dated. You know, I’ve paid for flights, for hotel rooms. I’ve been, you know, generous as a partner,” he mentioned. “I think someone is trying to make that look criminal when it is not.”
The Florida Republican advised the New York Times that his legal professionals have been involved with the Justice Department, they usually had been advised he’s a topic, not a goal, of investigation, in line with the report.
“I solely know that it has to do with ladies,” Gaetz mentioned. “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”
Former Attorney General William Barr opened the investigation within the waning days of the Trump administration and notified senior officers within the Justice Department attributable to Gaetz’s nationwide profile, in line with the New York Times, which pressured no fees have been introduced in opposition to the congressman.
Greenberg pleaded not responsible final yr and was jailed this month for violating the phrases of his bail. He is ready for a court docket date in Orlando in June.
The report was printed hours after Axios reported Gaetz is contemplating leaving Congress to hitch Newsmax, a conservative cable community.
A consultant for Florida’s 1st Congressional District since 2017, Gaetz, a staunch Trump ally, has been an everyday visitor on right-leaning information reveals. He acquired engaged to Ginger Luckey, sister to Oculus founder and Republican donor Palmer Luckey, in December.
Representatives for Gaetz and the Justice Department didn’t instantly reply to the Washington Examiner’s requests for remark.