The Justice Department is investigating whether Florida Republican MP Matt Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her trips with him, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
The government is currently investigating whether Gaetz has violated federal sex trafficking laws, according to the newspaper, which quoted three people who were briefed on the investigation. The congressman was not charged.
Rep Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks prior to the Conservative Political Action Conference held at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida on February 26, 2021.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
The Justice Department declined to comment on the Times report to CNBC.
Gaetz, a 38-year-old conservative arsonist and close ally of former President Donald Trump, denied the alleged allegations against him in a statement on Tuesday. He said he was threatened in a $ 25 million “organized criminal extortion” program involving a former Justice Department official.
Gaetz went on to say that he was working with the FBI and that his father “even carried a wire on the orders of the FBI to catch these criminals”.
“The leak planted tonight at the New York Times should thwart this investigation,” said Gaetz on Tuesday evening in an amended version of the statement in which it was originally said that the story had been leaked to the FBI.
“None of the allegations against me are true, and the people who bring these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation,” said Gaetz.
The congressman said in his statement that the blackmail attempt had been made “in recent weeks” against him and his family. But the DOJ’s review of Gaetz has been opened in recent months by Trump’s administration under then Attorney General William Barr, two sources told the Times.
The Justice Department told Gaetz’s lawyers that he was the subject, not the target, of an investigation, the congressman told the newspaper.
“I only know that it has to do with women,” Gaetz told the Times. “I suspect someone is trying to classify my generosity towards ex-girlfriends as something more uncomfortable.”
Gaetz also informed Axios on Tuesday that he did not know the specific allegations against him.
When asked what they could refer to, Gaetz said to the point of sale: “In my individual days I definitely looked after women with whom I had an appointment. You know, I paid for flights, for hotel rooms. It was me , you. ” I think someone is trying to make this look criminal when it isn’t. “
Gaetz said Tuesday night on Fox News that the “terrible charge” against him “is a lie”.
The claim that he was traveling with a 17-year-old “is demonstrably wrong”, said Gaetz and encouraged people to “look at my travel documents and determine that this is not the case”.
Gaetz has said privately that he may consider leaving Congress early to take a job with the conservative news agency Newsmax, Axios reported earlier Tuesday.