- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Rep. Matt Gaetz is the subject of a Justice Department sex-crime investigation, reportedly involving trafficking in a minor, a probe that the Florida Republican called part of an extortion scheme.

The New York Times first reported Tuesday, cited “three people briefed on the matter,” that the Justice Department is looking into whether Mr. Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old, paid for her to travel with him, and crossed state lines to do so.

Mr. Gaetz, in multiple interviews Tuesday night, said the Justice Department had told his attorneys that he was a subject of an investigation that involves sexual conduct with women, but not the target of it.

According to the Times, the probe of Mr. Gaetz “is part of a broader investigation into a political ally of his, a local official in Florida named Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on an array of charges, including sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl.”

The investigation was opened under Attorney General William Barr near the end of the Trump administration, the Times reported.

The Justice Department declined to comment, but the department has a policy of not making remarks on ongoing investigations.

In an interview with Fox News Channel on Tuesday night, the 38-year-old lawmaker called the accusations false and a vendetta by a former Justice Department official.

“It is a horrible allegation and it is a lie,” he told host Tucker Carlson. “What is happening is an extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official.”

He accused David McGee, a former DOJ official now with the Florida law firm Beggs & Lane, of having “demanded $25 million in exchange for making horrible sex-trafficking allegations against me go away.”

In the interview, which Mr. Carlson called “one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted,” Mr. Gaetz said his father, who received the initial solicit, had gone to the FBI in the Northern District of Florida and worn a wire to speak with Mr. McGee about the blackmail scheme.

The Florida Republican demanded that those tapes be released “tomorrow.”

In other interviews Tuesday, Mr. Gaetz acknowledged having “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. I think someone is trying to make that look criminal when it is not,” he said.

News of the investigation comes after reports that Mr. Gaetz was considering stepping down from Congress to contribute to Newsmax.

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