The disclosure of federal investigation into Florida congressman Matt Gaetz over an alleged sexual relationship with a minor has sent shock waves through Washington D.C. and much of the Sunshine State. But many of the details remain unclear amid counter-allegations by Gaetz himself that the investigation at least partly involves an extortion scheme directed at his family.
The investigation, first reported by The New York Times on Wednesday, is said to be looking into whether Gaetz had a relationship with a 17-year-old, and whether or not he paid for her travel, which may violate federal sex trafficking laws. Gaetz, one of the most well-known House Republicans and longtime ally of Donald Trump, has categorically denied the allegations, and instead pointed a finger at a former Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney whom he says was attempting to extort money from his family.
“It is verifiably false that I’ve traveled with a 17 year old woman,” Gaetz texted to a Politico reporter earlier this week. “These are lines rooted in extortion, coordinated by a former DOJ official.”
Responding to the accusations this week, Gaetz appeared on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” with host Tucker Carlson, denying any such involvement and claiming that David McGee, a former federal prosecutor, was attempting to extort Gaetz’s father, Don Gaetz, out of $25 million.
“Our family was so troubled by that we went to the local FBI and the FBI and the Department of Justice were so concerned about this attempted extortion of a member of Congress that they asked my dad to wear a wire, which he did with the former Department of Justice official,” Gaetz told Carlson. “Tonight, I am demanding that the Department of Justice and the FBI release the audio recordings that were made under their supervision and at their direction which will prove my innocence and that will show that these allegations aren’t true, they’re merely intended to try to bleed my family out of money.”
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
Gaetz also took to social media, tweeting out a story about how his father wore a wire, as part of an FBI investigation, to catch those responsible for the scheme.
…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.
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) March 30, 2021
McGee, however, has denied any attempt to extort Gaetz’s family, telling The Washington Post that 38-year-old Republican was attempting to deflect news coverage from the ongoing DOJ investigation.
“It is completely false. It’s a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that he’s under investigation for sex trafficking of minors. I have no connection with that case at all.”
The scandal has been plastered across the mainstream news cycles, with political pundits weighing in on what this means for the firebrand conservative. Mere hours before the bombshell story broke, sources told Axios that Gaetz was potentially eyeing an “early retirement” to take a job at Newsmax.
The breaking story also led to PredictIt, an online political betting market, opening a new proposition on whether Gaetz resigns by May 1. At the time of writing, a Yes price sits at 27 cents, while a No is at 73 cents.
“We have a new market up today on if Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) will resign before May 1. Yesterday morning Gaetz was making headlines over speculation that he was seriously considering not seeking re-election in 2022 – and possibly resigning his seat before then – to take a job at Newsmax,” PredictIt said in a press release. “But, by yesterday afternoon the headlines were updated with allegations that he had a sexual relationship with an underage girl, and that he’s being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him across state lines – a potential violation of federal sex trafficking laws.
Gaetz said late yesterday that he has no plans to resign his House seat.