Representative Matt Gaetz has slammed allegations of sex trafficking leaked to the New York Times as being part of an “organised criminal extortion scheme” against him and his family.
On Tuesday evening, the New York Times broke a story that Representative Gaetz was being investigated by the Department of Justice for alleged “sex trafficking.” The investigation, allegedly opened under Bill Barr, the former Attorney General, was looking at whether Gaetz “had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him,” and “whether Mr Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws.”
Speaking to Jonathan Swan from Axios, Gaetz slammed the allegations as “searing as they are false.” When asked what the charges could relate to, Gaetz told Swan that in his single days he “provided” for women he 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.
Not only were the sex trafficking allegations completely false, Gaetz said, but they are “rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million… [by an ex-Department of Justice employee] in exchange for making this case go away.” The Representative from Florida provided screenshots of text messages, emails and documents detailing the scheme to Axios, and added that he had in fact been working with the FBI on the case for weeks, and that he was not the target “but the subject of an investigation regarding sexual conduct with women.”
Gaetz, a strong ally of President Trump during his time in office, further detailed the allegations regarding the extortion scheme in a thread on Twitter, noting that his father had even worn a wire “at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals,” and that the “planted leak” to the FBI “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.
Mike Cernovich, the conservative commentator, tweeted before Gaetz’s statement that he had received a tip regarding Gaetz potentially leaving Congress early for Newsmax, with other journalists apparently receiving similar tips. “The Matt Gaetz story must have been widely shopped around,” Cernovich alleged. “An investigation of this nature usually wouldn’t leak. Highly suspicious.”
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