Republican Representative is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, according to three people briefed on the matter.
Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, according to three people briefed on the matter.
On Tuesday, Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump denied that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old after the New York Times reported that, according to its sources, the Justice Department was investigating a possible sexual relationship with the girl and whether he paid for her to travel with him.
He insisted that “no part of the allegations against me are true” and that the claims were being pushed by people who are targets of an “ongoing extortion investigation.”
“People can look at my travel records and see that that is not the case,” he added.
“What is happening is an extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official. Gaetz said that on March 16, his father got a text message “demanding a meeting wherein a person demanded $25 million in exchange for making horrible sex trafficking allegations against me go away.”Gaetz said.
Gaetz strongly denied in an interview on Fox News that the accusations and accused a former Department of Justice prosecutor of attempting to extort him and his family over the allegations. The congressman named the former prosecutor. CNN is not naming the attorney but has reached out to them for a response to Gaetz’s claims.
“The person doesn’t exist. I have not had a relationship with a 17-year-old. That is totally false. The allegation is, as I read in the New York Times is, I have travelled with some 17-year-old in some relationship. That is false and records will bear that out to be false,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice declined to comment. FBI in Jacksonville provided a statement to CNN, “The FBI declines to confirm nor deny the existence or status of an investigation. We refer you to the Department of Justice for further comment regarding this report.”
As part of the broader probe into trafficking allegations against another Florida politician, Federal authorities are now investigating the representative.
That politician is Joel Greenberg, a former county official in Central Florida who was arrested last year on charges that include sex trafficking of a minor. Greenberg has pleaded not guilty and is set to go on trial.
The person said the probe of Gaetz was opened in the closing months of the Trump-era Justice Department and is an outgrowth of the Greenberg investigation. Public integrity prosecutors in Washington, DC, and Tampa are overseeing the Gaetz investigation, the person added.
The people who spoke to the Times said that as part of this broader probe, investigators are looking at whether Gaetz, a high profile ally of former President Donald Trump, violated federal sex trafficking laws — something that could carry severe legal repercussions. No charges have been filed against Gaetz, the Times reported.
“Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name. 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 New York Times tonight was intended to thwart that investigation. 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.” -Rep. Matt Gaetz
Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmAQGDnc68c