Rep. Matt Gaetz on Tuesday denied allegations against him about a relationship with an underage teenager, after a report said the Justice Department was investigating the matter.
“It is verifiably false that I’ve traveled with a 17 year old woman,” the Florida Republican told POLITICO in a text message. “These are lines rooted in extortion, coordinated by a former DOJ official.”
In a Twitter thread on Tuesday evening, Gaetz, 38, said he and his family were the victims of an extortion scheme. The congressmember provided POLITICO with a series of documents that he said support his allegation of extortion, but none could be immediately verified.
“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,” he said.
His family has been cooperating with federal authorities, he said, adding that his father had been “wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals.” He said a Tuesday report by The New York Times was an attempt to “thwart that investigation,” and demanded that the Justice Department release those recordings to clear his name.
He also told Axios that he was “unclear” about the specifics of the allegations and was told “very little,” but said he was “absolutely” confident that none of the women he’s been involved with were underage.
Gaetz’s denials followed the Times report earlier Tuesday that said the Justice Department was investigating whether the lawmaker, a staunch Trump loyalist, had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and had paid for her to travel with him across state lines.
Those actions could violate federal sex trafficking laws, according to The Times, which cited three people briefed on the matter. No charges have been brought against Gaetz, according to the report.
Two of the sources told The Times that the investigation — focusing on events that took place about two years ago — began toward the close of the Trump presidency, and that senior Justice Department officials were told about the probe.
The investigation into Gaetz is part of a larger probe into a former local Florida official and Gaetz ally, Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on charges that included sex trafficking of a minor, the report said.
Earlier Tuesday, Axios had reported that Gaetz was considering early retirement from Congress to take a job at Newsmax, the conservative TV network.
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