OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz is being investigated by the Department of Justice regarding an alleged relationship he had with a 17-year-old girl and the possibility that he violated sex trafficking laws by paying her to travel with him.
The girl was supposedly 17-years-old at the time. She is now 19 since the misconduct allegedly took place 2 years ago.
The investigation was opened under Attorney General William Barr and briefed to senior Trump DOJ officials.
There appears to be some major confusion around whether Gaetz and his father or just his father wore a wire.
The New York Times reported:
Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, the people said. A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences.
It was not clear how Mr. Gaetz met the girl, believed to be 17 at the time of encounters about two years ago that investigators are scrutinizing, according to two of the people.
Mr. Gaetz called the investigation part of an elaborate scheme involving “false sex allegations” to extort him and his family for $25 million that began this month. He said he and his father, Don Gaetz, had been cooperating with the F.B.I. and “wearing a wire” after they were approached by people saying they could make the investigation “go away.” Mr. Gaetz claimed the disclosure of the sex trafficking inquiry was intended to thwart an investigation into the extortion plot.
The NYT flat-out wrote: “He said he and his father, Don Gaetz, had been cooperating with the F.B.I. and ‘wearing a wire.'”
But in a series of Tweets, Gaetz’s said his father wore a wire.
Gaetz released a statement saying he and his family have “been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name.”
Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an 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…
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 30, 2021
…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 (@RepMattGaetz) March 30, 2021
Gaetz also told Axios: “I have definitely, in my single days, 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.”
Matt Gaetz: "I have definitely, in my single days, 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." https://t.co/ZFbZaZ8ice
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) March 30, 2021
On Tuesday night, Gaetz joined Tucker Carlson on Fox News to discuss the New York Times hit piece.
Gaetz argued that he was being framed by people at the DOJ and called on the Department to release audio recordings made when his father wore a wire at the FBI’s behest during what Gaetz portrayed as part of an investigation into an alleged extortionist.
Gaetz says “the FBI and the Department of Justice” need to release tapes to clear his name and that “those tapes will show that I am innocent.”
Gaetz then told Tucker that he had once met a woman, whom Gaetz had brought to a dinner engagement, who was “threatened” by the FBI and told “if she wouldn’t cop to the fact that I was involved in some pay-for-play scheme that she could face charges. I do believe there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to smear me. Providing flights and transportation for people you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime.”
WATCH: Rep. Matt Gaetz responds on Tucker Carlson Tonight to allegations of sexual misconduct:
He says a former DOJ official named David McGee is trying to extort is family for money
He says that the FBI and DOJ have audio recordings that will prove his innocence. pic.twitter.com/J95AEFtxsr
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) March 31, 2021
Zero Hedge reports:
The New York Times report says Gaetz wasn’t targeted directly, but that the behavior in question is somehow tied to a Florida official named Joel Greenberg who was indicted last summer on a range 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.
No charges have been brought against Gaetz.
Gaetz also told the NYT in a later interview that “it is verifiably false that I have traveled with a 17-ear-old woman.