- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Fox News host Tucker Carlson said he received little clarity from Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, by interviewing him shortly after the congressman was reported to be under federal investigation Tuesday.

Mr. Gaetz, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” hardly two hours after The New York Times reported he is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Citing three people briefed on the matter, the report said that Mr. Gaetz is being investigated over whether he had a relationship with a 17-year-old girl in violation of federal sex trafficking laws.

Discussing the report in his first TV interview after it was published, Mr. Gaetz denied the allegations and claimed that he is the target of an extortion attempt and has been in touch with the FBI.

The roughly eight-minute conversation with Mr. Gaetz was immediately followed by Mr. Carlson telling viewers that it was “one of the weirdest interviews” he has conducted during his television career.

“I don’t think that clarified much, but it certainly showed this is a deeply interesting story and we’ll be following it,” Mr. Carlson said. “I don’t quite understand it, but we’ll bring you more when we find out.”

The Times had reported that the federal investigation into Mr. Gaetz was opened by the Justice Department during the end of the Trump administration under former Attorney General William P. Barr.

All three sources said the probe of Mr. Gaetz is part of a broader investigation into an ally of his, Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector indicted last year on charges including sex trafficking, The Times said.

Mr. Greenberg pleaded not guilty to the charges last August, while The Times reported that prosecutors have not brought any charges against Mr. Gaetz.

The Wall Street Journal independently reported later Tuesday evening that Mr. Gaetz has been under federal investigation since late last year, citing several unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

Mr. Gaetz said on Fox News that his father was approached earlier this month by a former Justice Department official who requested that he pay him millions of dollars to make the allegations “go away.”

The congressman then went to the FBI, he said, and “they asked my dad to wear a wire, which he did.” He attests the recording will prove him innocent and urged the FBI to release its audio.

Mr. Gaetz also said the FBI has been in touch with a female friend of his who Mr. Carlson previously met, personally involving the Fox News host in the apparent federal probe.

“You and I went to dinner about two years ago, your wife was there, and I brought a friend of mine. You’ll remember her. And she was actually threatened by the FBI, told that if she wouldn’t cop to the fact that somehow I was involved in some pay-for-play scheme, that she could face trouble,” Mr. Gaetz told Mr. Carlson.

“Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you are dating who are of legal age is not a crime,” Mr. Gaetz said later during the segment.

Mr. Carlson said he has no recollection of the woman.

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