Trump ally Matt Gaetz ‘under federal investigation’ over claim he had sex with a 17-year-old

Josh Milton March 31, 2021
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Matt Gaetz looks concerned in a blue plaid suit

Representative Matt Gaetz. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Matt Gaetz is reportedly being investigated by federal officials for allegedly having sex with an underage girl, a claim he says is “verifiably false”.

The Justice Department is looking into whether the west Florida congress member violated federal sex-trafficking laws and had an inappropriate relationship, people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times.

According to sources, the department is examining a claim that Gatez had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him around two years ago.

The inquiry was opened at the eleventh hour of the Trump administration by then-attorney general William Barr as part of a wider investigation into an indicted local Florida official, it is understood.

Matt Gaetz, lauded by Republicans as a rising star, denied any criminal wrongdoing on Tuesday (30 March), confirming to Axios that an inquiry has been launched.

“The allegations against me are as searing as they are false,” the 38-year-old said.

“I believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to criminalise my sexual conduct, you know, when I was a single guy.”

“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.”

The conservative firebrand stressed that the specifics of the investigation are “unclear” to him – he knows “very little”, he claimed.

He added that his lawyers have contacted the department, where officials told him he is the subject, not the target, of an investigation “regarding sexual conduct with women”.

Generally, a “subject” means someone whose actions fall within the scope of a grand jury investigation. If they are the “target”, that means federal prosecutors have gathered enough evidence to indict them of a crime.

Gaetz has not been charged with a crime.

Those briefed on the matter claim Gaetz fell into the investigation’s radar as they scrutinised Joel Greenberg, a Florida tax collector and ally of Gaetz’s indicted last summer for, among other things, the alleged sex trafficking a child. Greenberg is awaiting trial and has pleaded not guilty to charges.

“The allegations of sexual misconduct against me are false,” Gaetz added.

“They are rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million in exchange for making this case go away.”

He took to Twitter to further lambast the Justice Department’s so-called “smear” campaign against him and his family.

Gaetz claimed that he is working with the  FBI to expose what he described as an “organised criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official”, whom he did not name.

“My father [Don Gaetz] has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals,” he wrote. “The planted leak to the FBI tonight 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.”

PinkNews contacted representatives of the Department of Justice for comment.

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