Sadly, it’s never a surprise when a pal of Donald Trump’s turns out to be a creep — but this is pretty gross.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, a staunch conservative and Trump ally, was being investigated by the Department of Justice for allegedly violating federal s*x trafficking laws, concerning his relationship with a 17-year-old girl. The alleged relationship supposedly happened two years ago, and Gaetz allegedly broke federal statutes by paying for his underage girlfriend to travel with him. (Per the Times, it’s “illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in s*x in exchange for money or something of value.”)
Sources told the NYT that the investigation into Gaetz is related to a case surrounding Joel Greenberg, a local official in Florida endorsed by the congressman, who was indicted last year on several charges, including s*x trafficking of a child. The probe against Gaetz was also opened under Attorney General Bill Barr in the last months of the Trump admin, so it can’t be easily explained away by Republicans as a Democratic hit job.
Of course, the 38-year-old has denied the allegations, although his denial seemingly made things even more complicated. He wrote on Twitter:
“Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name. We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter…
…and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals. 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.”
Of course, if such an extortion investigation does exist, he completely blew it up by telling the world about it. He even further jeopardized the supposed FBI case by naming the suspect, David McGee, during an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show. (McGee, who no longer works for the DOJ, has denied the accusation.)
Gaetz’s self-defense got even weirder when he seemingly implicated the Fox News host, too, in their conversation, saying:
“I can say that actually you and I went to dinner about two years ago, your wife was there and I brought a friend of mine, you will remember her. … And she was actually threatened by the FBI, told that if she wouldn’t cop to the fact that somehow I was involved in some pay for play scheme that she could face trouble and so I do believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to smear me.”
Carlson denied knowledge of the politician’s claim — which lined up with the DOJ’s timeline of the trafficking taking place “two years ago” — and even called the conversation “one of the weirdest interviews [he’d] ever conducted.” Elsewhere, Gaetz told Axios that he had never dated an underage girl, explaining:
“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.”
Basically, his side of the story is seeming VERY suspicious and bordering on conspiracy theory (popular Republican territory these days). But it doesn’t help that his love life has raised eyebrows in the past. The Daily Beast reported that he dated a college student in his mid-30s, while Mother Jones claimed he was admonished by a staffer for his relationship with a 21-year-old back in 2017. (The latter outlet shared that Gaetz had called them, “pleading” not to identify the woman in question.) Hell, he was even creeping on Tiffany Trump, a woman more than ten years his junior, just one month before he popped the question to his now-fiancée 26-year-old Ginger Luckey. And on top of all that, in 2017, Gaetz was the ONLY member of Congress (House OR Senate) to vote against an anti-human trafficking bill. BIG yikes.
Plus, there’s this:
Oh Matt, this definitely is not going to age well. pic.twitter.com/gQTRIajJ6L
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) March 31, 2021
Yeah, it definitely doesn’t look great for Matt. On top of it all, Axios reported shortly before the news broke that he was considering not running for reelection and taking a job with Newsmax. Although he has already said he refuses to resign, it seems safe to say this whole situation is making Gaetz a bit nervous. Probably just like when he was arrested in 2008 for suspected DUI.
What do U think about all the political drama, Perezcious readers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments (below)!
[Image via WENN/Instar]