/  03.31.2021

Rep. Matt Gaetz is under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly having a relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paying for her to travel with him, The New York Times reported on Tuesday (March 30). The Florida Republican and close ally of Donald Trump’s denied the allegations on Twitter and Fox News.

“The person doesn’t exist. I have not had a relationship with a 17-year-old. That is totally false,” he said on Fox. “The allegation is, as I read in The New York Times, is I have traveled with some 17-year-old in some relationship. That is false and records will bear that out to be false.”

In a statement to CNN, Gaetz instead claimed the allegations are part of a “criminal extortion” plot against him and his family.

“Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former [Department of Justice] official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name,” Gaetz told CNN. “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,” he 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 singled out former Department of Justice prosecutor David McGee as one person allegedly trying to extort him. Speaking with The Washington Post, McGee said Gaetz’s story was “completely false.”

“It’s a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that he’s under investigation for sex trafficking of minors,” McGee said. “I have no connection with that case at all, other than, one of a thousand people who have heard the rumors.”

McGee confirmed that he did speak with Gaetz’s father, but said he welcomes the release of any recordings of their conversation.

“If there is a tape, play the tape,” he said. “There is nothing on that tape that is untoward. It is a pleasant conversation of a dad concerned about his son and the trouble his son was in.”

According to the Times, the investigation into Gaetz’s alleged wrongdoing was opened during the last few months of Trump’s presidency. The investigation also includes Joel Greenberg, a former Florida county official, who was arrested on sex trafficking charges last year.

According to reports, the Justice Department believes Gaetz’s relationship with the minor occurred two years ago.

“I only know that it has to do with women,” Gaetz told the Times about the investigation. “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”


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