Three people briefed on the matter told The New York Times on Tuesday that the Justice Department is investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) for alleged sexual contact with a 17-year-old child.
The avowed conservative and Trump supporter is also being investigated for allegedly arranging for her to accompany him across state lines, which would be a violation of federal sex trafficking laws due to her age.
The DOJ began its investigation in the final months of Trump’s administration, according to the Times’ sources. Gaetz, 38, told the New York Times that the Department of Justice advised his legal team that he was the focus of the investigation but not the target, and that he thought there were some bad faith charges at play.
“I think somebody is attempting to reclassify my hospitality to ex-girlfriends as something more nefarious,” he said.
In an interview with Axios, Gaetz clarified, saying, “The accusations of sexual assault against me are baseless.”
“They are focused on a $25 million extortion plot against my kin… in return for the lawsuit to be dropped.” He then started tweeting about the incident, alleging that the FBI had his father, a former Florida Senate leader, wearing a wire to “catch these criminals.”
He reported on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night that the blackmail attempt is being carried out by a former Justice Department employee named David McGee.
McGee worked as a first assistant US attorney for the Northern District of Florida for six years and then as the lead attorney for the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Task Force for seven years. F. Lee Bailey, a former criminal defense attorney who helped acquit physician Sam Sheppard and O.J. Simpson, both of whom were convicted of murdering their wives, was incarcerated as a result of the lawyer’s efforts.
McGee quit his job as a prosecutor in 2005 to join Beggs & Lane, a Florida law firm where he still works. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment from HuffPost.
Someone has said there are pictures of Gaetz with child prostitutes, Gaetz said on Carlson’s show. Despite the fact that the allegation had not been made public until Gaetz brought it up on Fox News, he denied it.
The congressman also tried to drag Carlson into his allegations on several occasions, claiming he’s “not the only one on screen right now who has been wrongly accused of a heinous sex act.” Carlson immediately dismissed Gaetz’s remarks, but Gaetz later admitted that he and the Fox News host had dinner together “about two years ago” and that Carlson recalled the female “mate” Gaetz brought.
“To be honest, I don’t recall the woman you’re talking about, or the context,” Carlson told the congressman. Later on his program, the host admitted that his encounter with Gaetz was “one of the strangest interviews I’ve ever done” and that getting the congressman on the show didn’t “clarify much.”
He’s also a proponent of QAnon, the erroneous right-wing conspiracy theory that Democrats are complicit in a cannibalistic, satanic child sex trafficking ring, by refusing to vote on a bill opposing its proponents and endorsing freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has supported many QAnon conspiracy theories.
Axios claimed earlier Tuesday that Gaetz had privately told his inner circle that he was considering leaving Congress to work for the right-wing news site Newsmax. However, sources said in 2019 that the Florida congressman had considered running for Senate in Alabama, and that he spent most of the Trump administration building his national profile.