Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, listens in Washington, DC on June 17, 2020 during a markup on HR 7120, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020
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Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Obstructed justice when he called a witness in an ongoing investigation into potential sex crimes, NBC News reported Thursday.
The witness is allegedly linked to Gaetz and his friend Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector who pleaded guilty to several crimes last month, including sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl, a law enforcement source told NBC.
Later on Thursday, a Florida federal judge scheduled Greenberg’s hearing on August 19 in Orlando. As part of the plea deal, Greenberg agreed to cooperate and provide the authorities with “substantial support” in all investigations.
Greenberg’s case reportedly led prosecutors to investigate Gaetz, who dismissed all allegations of wrongdoing against him when the New York Times first reported in late March that the Justice Department was investigating whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and was paying for her travels with him.
“Congressman Gaetz seeks justice, he does not hinder it,” said a Gaetz spokesman on Thursday in a statement to NBC.
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“The anonymous allegations so far have proven to be lies, wrapped in leaks and rooted in a blackmail scheme by a former DOJ official,” the spokesman said, referring to Gaetz’s claim that the sex trafficking investigation was with an “organized criminal.” Blackmail plan “is linked against him and his family.
“After two months there is still not a single charge of misconduct, and now the ‘story’ is changing again,” said Gaetz ‘spokesman. “Rep. Gaetz’s Legal Department is continuing to investigate the attempted blackmailing of an incumbent US Congressman and anyone associated with it.”
The reported obstruction investigation against Gaetz comes from a phone call between the witness and the congressman’s ex-girlfriend, Politico said, who first reported the investigation.
At one point in the conversation, the ex-girlfriend selected Gaetz for the call, Politico reported, citing sources familiar with the case. It is not known what was said on the call, Politico reported.
Gaetz, 39, is one of the most visible Republicans in the House of Representatives and one of the loudest supporters of former President Donald Trump in the Chamber. Gaetz recently told news outlets that he would consider running for president if Trump fails to conduct his heavily teased election campaign in 2024.
The House of Representatives Ethics Committee announced in April that it had opened an investigation into Gaetz.