Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican Congressman who is being investigated for allegedly having sex with an underage teen, saw the case take a bizarre turn after he tried to defend himself on Fox News.
Gaetz, who unabashedly supported one-term President Donald Trump, was the subject of a New York Times expose yesterday (Mar. 30)
The newspaper reported that Gaetz, 38, is being investigated by the Justice Department over an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, whom he paid to travel with him across state lines.
If the allegations are true, Gaetz could be charged with soliciting sex for payment and statutory rape.
Even if the girl turned 18 during the relationship or lied about her age, Gaetz would still face charges.
The story touched off a scramble by Gaetz to knockdown the charges by appearing on Fox News during a segment on Tucker Carlson’s show.
Carlson, a Trump sycophant who normally treats Republican guests with kid gloves, said afterward it was one of the strangest interviews he’d ever conducted.
He looked genuinely perturbed with Gaetz for bringing up 20-year-old allegations that Carlson was also accused of sexual assault. In that case, the allegations did prove to be untrue.
Gaetz said the allegations against him went even beyond that and involved a purported $25 million extortion attempt against his family by a former Department of Justice official “to make the case go away.”
The Republican lawmaker even went so far as to name the official, David McGee, now a lawyer in Pensacola, Fla.
McGee scoffed at the charges and told The Washington Post the extortion plot was “completely false.”
According to Gaetz’s version of events, father Donald Gaetz, a former president of the Florida Senate, had received a text message on March 16 demanding a meeting.
His father was supposed to contact a former McGee “so that specific instructions could be given regarding the wiring of $4.5 million as a down payment on this bribe.”
Gaetz said his family had contacted the local FBI about the matter.
“This is a blatant attempt to distract from the fact he’s under investigation for sex trafficking of minors,” McGee, who served on the DOJ’s organized crime taskforce in Florida, told the newspaper.
“I have no connection with that case at all, other than one of a thousand people who have heard the rumors,” he said.
Gaetz laid it all out for Carlson on his show, but even the talking head was skeptical afterward.
“You just saw a Matt Gaetz interview that was one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted,” Carlson said after Gaetz left the set.
“On the certainty that there is always more than you read in the newspaper, we immediately called Matt Gaetz and asked him to come on and tell us more.
“I don’t think that clarified much,” Carlson told his viewers. “But it certainly showed this is a deeply interesting story, and we will be following it. Don’t quite understand it, but we will bring you more when we find out.”
Gaetz was under DOJ investigation to determine whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws and had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a teen, whom he paid, according to The Times.
Trump Attorney General William Barr authorized the broader investigation into a Republican party official and Gaetz political ally, Joel Greenberg, the elected Seminole County tax collector.
He was indicted last summer on charges of sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, including at least one underage girl.
Gaetz was photographed visiting the Trump White House with Greenberg in 2019.
Gaetz reportedly told associates he was considering resigning his seat in Congress to take a job with the rightwing media outlet Newsmax, according to online news site Axios.
Officially, the FBI has declined to comment because it’s an ongoing investigation.