Matt Gaetz gives a bizarre answer to allegations that he's being investigated for suspected sex trafficking

Matt Gaetz gives a bizarre answer to allegations that he's being investigated for suspected sex trafficking
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida speaking at the 2019 Teen Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA in Washington, D.C., Gage Skidmore

]

Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz is under investigation for potentially violating sex trafficking laws, according to a new report Tuesday from the New York Times.

Officials are reportedly investigating his relationship with a 17-year-old girl and whether he had sex with her and paid for her to take take trips with him. It is a federal crime to use money to get an underage person to cross state lines for sexual purposes.

"It was not clear how Mr. Gaetz met the girl, believed to be 17 at the time of encounters about two years ago that investigators are scrutinizing, according to two of the people," the report said. "The investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William P. Barr, the two people said. Given Mr. Gaetz's national profile, senior Justice Department officials in Washington — including some appointed by Mr. Trump — were notified of the investigation, the people said."

Earlier on Tuesday, Axios had reported that Gaetz has considered stepping down from Congress early to join the right-wing outlet Newsmax. It's not clear if such considerations are related to the investigation reported by the Times.

The Times reported that the investigation of Gaetz grew out from a "broader investigation into a political ally of his, a local official in Florida named Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on an array of charges, including sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl."

Greenberg shared a picture on Twitter with Gaetz at the White House in June 2019, as the Times pointed out. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Gaetz gave a bizarre and puzzling response to the Times when asked about the case, seeming to confirm at least some parts of the report:

Mr. Gaetz said in an interview that his lawyers had been in touch with the Justice Department and that they were told he was the subject, not the target, of an investigation. "I only know that it has to do with women," Mr. Gaetz said. "I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward."

After this piece and the Times story were initially published, Gaetz gave more extended comments to Axios.

"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," he said. He added that "absolutely" none of the women were underage."

"The allegations of sexual misconduct against me are false," he told reporter Jonathan Swan. "They are rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million … in exchange for making this case go away."

From Your Site Articles
Related Articles Around the Web

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.