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Rep. Matt Gaetz Under Investigation for Alleged Sexual Relationship With Underage Girl

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  • The Justice Department is investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.) over accusations that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel with him.
  • Investigators are allegedly probing whether Gaetz broke federal sex trafficking laws, and the inquiry is believed to be connected to a broader investigation into one of his political allies, who was indicted on numerous charges last year, including sex trafficking of a child.
  • Gaetz confirmed the investigation Tuesday but denied the allegations, claiming they are part of an attempt by former DOJ official David McGee to extort his family for $25 million.
  • He also accused The New York Times of leaking the story to undermine an investigation into McGee, who called Gaetz’s remarks “a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that he’s under investigation for sex trafficking of minors.”

Reported Allegations Against Rep. Gaetz

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.) is being investigated by the Justice Department over allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a teenage girl and paid for her to travel with him, according to several reports published Tuesday.

Sources familiar with the matter said investigators are looking into whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, which make it illegal to transport a minor across state lines to engage in sex.

According to The New York Times, which first broke the story, it is unclear how Gaetz met the girl, who was believed to be 17-years-old at the time of the encounters about two years ago. The sources did say that the investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William Barr as part of a broader probe into local Florida politician and political ally of Gaetz, Joel Greenberg.

Greenberg was indicted last summer on numerous charges including sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, including at least one underage girl. He has pleaded not guilty and is currently scheduled to go on trial in June, but was reportedly sent to jail earlier this month for violating the terms of his bail.

It is currently unknown how Greenberg knows Gaetz, but the media has surfaced at least two photos of the two together that Greenberg posted on his Twitter in 2017 and 2019.

Gaetz Denies Allegations, Claims He’s Being Extorted

It is also unclear how investigators on the Greenberg probe began to investigate the controversial Florida representative. In an interview with Axios Tuesday, Gaetz confirmed that he was under investigation but said that allegations are “unclear,” and he said he’s been told “very little.” 

Gaetz told the outlet his lawyers had been informed by the DOJ that he was “not a target but a subject of an investigation regarding sexual conduct with women.”

“I have definitely, in my single days, provided for women I’ve dated,” he said when asked what the charges could relate to. “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.”

However, he also claimed that he was “absolutely” confident none of the women were underage and denied the accusations.

“The allegations against me are as searing as they are false. I believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to criminalize my sexual conduct, you know when I was a single guy,” he continued. “They are rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million … in exchange for making this case go away.”

Gaetz also echoed those claims in a statement on Twitter Tuesday, saying his family was being extorted by a former DOJ official “seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name.” 

He asserted that his family was cooperating with authorities and said that his father, former Florida State Senator Don Gaetz (R), has “been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction.”

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,” he continued.

He concluded by calling for the DOJ to “release the tapes.”

Tucker Carlson Interview

Gaetz elaborated on his extortion allegations while speaking to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who later described the interview as “one of the weirdest” he has “ever conducted.”

During the interview, Gaetz claimed his father received a text on March 16 from a former DOJ official, who he identified as attorney David McGee. Gaetz alleged that McGee demanded a meeting with his father, where the attorney asked for $25 million to make the sex trafficking allegations “go away.” Gaetz also accused The Times of intentionally leaking the story to ruin the investigation into McGee.

When asked what the basis of the DOJ investigation was, Gaetz claimed that he only knew what he read in The Times article, and then launched into a story about a dinner he claimed to have had with Carlson.

“Your wife was there, and I brought a friend of mine, you’ll remember her,” he said. “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.” 

“I don’t remember the woman you are speaking of or the context at all, honestly,” Carlson responded before asking Gaetz when he first learned about the investigation.

Gaetz, despite saying only minutes earlier that he only knew what he read in The Times, appeared to provide a major element of the story that had been previously unreported. 

“I really saw this as a deeply troubling challenge for my family on March 16, when people were, you know, talking about a minor, and that there were pictures of me with child prostitutes. That’s obviously false. There will be no pictures because no such thing happened,” he said, without further elaboration.

“I don’t think that clarified much, but it certainly showed that this was a deeply interesting story and we will be following it,” Carlson said after the interview. “[I] don’t quite understand it.” 

Former DOJ Official Denies Claims

Notably, regarding Gaetz’s extortion claims, McGee, the former DOJ official Gaetz accused, denied the allegations in a statement to The Washington Post Tuesday.

“It is completely false. It’s a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that he’s under investigation for sex trafficking of minors,” he said. “I have no connection with that case at all, other than, one of a thousand people who have heard the rumors.”

McGee did confirm that Gaetz’s father had called him and asked to meet, but he declined to say what the call was about.

“If there is a tape, play the tape,” he added. “There is nothing on that tape that is untoward. It is a pleasant conversation of a dad concerned about his son and the trouble his son was in.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the FBI and DOJ have not responded to media requests for comments. A source familiar with the matter did tell The Post that while the probe into sexual misconduct allegations was underway, Gaetz’s family did claim he was being extorted, and that the FBI separately is looking into those claims.

Axios also reported that Gaetz sent them “screenshots of text messages, emails and documents outlining the alleged extortion scheme,” though they did not provide the content.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Axios) (The Washington Post)

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Campaign Season Gets Rolling This Month With Primaries in 13 States

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Several of the contests taking place this month will serve as important tests for Trump-backed candidates and how much power the former president still has over the GOP.


May Primaries Start With Key Race in Ohio

The 2022 midterm season is officially heating up this month with 13 states heading to the polls.

Voters in Indiana and Ohio will kick off the busy month on Tuesday with several highly anticipated races, including one closely watched contest for the seat being vacated by long-time Senator Rob Portman (R-Oh.)

The fight for Portman’s seat has been a heated one: candidates have spent tens of millions of dollars, held numerous debates and forums, and at one point, two of them even got into a physical confrontation. 

The main reason there are so many eyes on this race is because it will prove to be a key test for former President Donald Trump and the influence he has over the party. While Portman has generally been moderate and, at times, more readily critical of Trump than many others in his party, the Republican primary campaign has basically been a fight to see who is the most in line with Trump.

According to FiveThirtyEight, all but one of the seven Republican senate candidates embraced the former president’s election fraud lies as they fought for his coveted endorsement in a state he won by eight points in both 2016 and 2020.

Trump, for his part, ultimately ended up endorsing Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance in a move that surprised many, because Vance had previously been vocally opposed to the former leader and his competitors had spent months running ads noting that fact.

However, the fight for Trump’s backing appears to have been worth it. Last week, a Fox News poll found that support for Vance has surged by double-digits since Trump’s endorsement, making him the front-runner.

Still, as FiveThirtyEight reports, “other factions of the party haven’t given up the fight either — which means the primary will be a direct test of how much clout Trump has when other Republican elites dare to defy him.” 

Meanwhile, there are also concerns regarding the ongoing legal battle over Ohio’s congressional map and the confusion that has caused for the state’s election calendar. For weeks, it was widely believed the state’s primaries would be pushed back after the Ohio Supreme Court ordered GOP lawmakers to redraw their map.

The map had been gerrymandered to give Republicans 12 out of the 15 congressional seats in the state even though they had only won around 55% of the popular vote. Ohio voters also previously passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 that effectively banned partisan gerrymandering.

The election, however, is still going forward anyway, even as early voting was down a whopping 40% from the last election, and the legislative races will not be on the ballot Tuesday, meaning there will have to be a second primary, which will likely drive down turnout even more.

Other Major Races This Month

There are also other notable contests scheduled for later this month. On May 17, there will be two additional races for seats vacated by Republican senators in North Carolina and Pennsylvania that will serve as important indicators of the former president’s sway over the party.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, the main Trump test focuses on two statewide races for the positions currently held by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R). The two infamously angered Trump after they refused to help him overturn the election, and as a result, many are watching to see if the former president’s full-fledged pressure campaign against them will work.

In Georgia and other battlegrounds voting this month, Democrats are also hoping they can make inroads — particularly in Pennsylvania. But recent polls have not painted a good picture for the party. Last week, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 47% of voters said they were more likely to vote for the Republican in their district, while just 44% said they would back Democrats. 

The poll marked the first time in eight years that a Marist survey found the GOP with an advantage for congressional ballot tests. 

See what others are saying: (NPR) (FiveThirtyEight) (PennLive)

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New York’s Highest Court Strikes Down Democrat-Gerrymandered Map

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The move represents a major blow to Democrats, who stood to gain as many as three seats in Congress if their map had been accepted.


Appeals Court Ruling

The New York State Court of Appeals struck down a congressional map drawn by the state’s Democrats Wednesday, dealing the party a major blow.

In the decision, the state’s highest court agreed with Republicans who had argued that the map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Democrats. The justices called the map “substantively unconstitutional as drawn with impermissible partisan purpose.”

The court also condemned the Democrats for ignoring a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2014 that aimed to limit political influence in redistricting, which included the creation of an independent entity to draw maps that the legislature would then vote on. However, the commission created to prevent partisan gerrymandering was unable to decide on a map because of its own partisan stalemate. As a result, Democrats in the legislature took it upon themselves to draw a final map.

But the version that the legislature passed and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed into law re-drew lines so that Democrats could have gained as many as three new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Such gains would be highly significant in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, where Republicans are expected to make substantial gains and may very well take back the House. Unsurprisingly, Republicans sued, and a lower court struck down the map.

In their order, the Appeals Court justices took away the legislature’s ability to make the map and instead delegated that power to a court-appointed “neutral expert.” 

While the judges did say there was enough time to finish the map before the primary elections in June, they also added that the Congressional contests would likely need to be moved to August. Races for governor and other statewide officials, however, would stay the same.

Broader Trends

The Appeals Court ruling is unique in that it targets Democrats, but it also comes as part of the broader trend of state courts cracking down on gerrymandering — though most other instances have stemmed from GOP-drawn maps.

In just the first four months of 2022, state courts in Ohio, North Carolina, Kansas, and Maryland have all struck down redistricting plans crafted by lawmakers.

Unlike the New York ruling, some of those other courts have implied that they will still allow those maps to be used in the 2022 elections. Such a decision would very likely disadvantage Democrats even more.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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McCarthy Warned Far-Right Lawmakers Could Incite Violence After Jan. 6 in New Audio of Leaked Call

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The conversations represent a marked difference from the public efforts of McCarthy and other Republican leaders to downplay their members actions.


Leaked Audio

Four days after the Jan. 6 insurrection, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) expressed concern about far-right Republicans inciting violence and openly voiced support for censoring them on Twitter, according to audio published by The New York Times on Tuesday.

The recordings, which come from a call among party leaders and aides on Jan. 10, are by far the clearest evidence top Republicans acknowledged that their members played a role in stoking violence before the insurrection and threatened to do so after.

They also emphasize the vast difference between what top Republicans, especially McCarthy, said behind closed doors, and how they downplayed and ignored the actions of their members in public. 

One of the most notable elements of these recordings is that McCarthy and the others explicitly identified several individuals by name. They focused mainly on Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.) and Mo Brooks (R-Al.) as the primary offenders.

In the audio, McCarthy can be heard flagging Gaetz right off the bat.

“Tension is too high. The country is too crazy,” he added. “I do not want to look back and think we caused something or we missed something and someone got hurt. I don’t want to play politics with any of that.” 

Specifically, McCarthy and the others talked about how Gaetz had gone on TV to attack multiple Republicans for being unsupportive of former President Donald Trump after Jan. 6. They particularly expressed concern over his targeting of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.), who was a member of the leadership team and had already been facing threats.

Others on the call also noted that Brooks had spoken at the rally before the insurrection, where he made incendiary remarks that many have viewed as direct calls to violence. McCarthy said the public comments from his members “have to stop,” adding he would call Gaetz and have others do the same to tell him that this “is serious shit” and “to cut this out.”

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the second-ranking House Republican, asserted at one point that Gaetz’s actions were “potentially illegal.” 

“Well, he’s putting people in jeopardy, and he doesn’t need to be doing this,” McCarthy responded. “We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know, and these people came prepared with rope, with everything else.”

Republicans on the call also mentioned incendiary remarks from other members, including Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx.), Barry Moore (R-Al.), and Lauren Boebert (R-Co.). Cheney pointed to Boebert as a security risk, noting she had tweeted out incredibly sensitive information about the movements of top leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) during the attack on the Capitol.

“Our members have got to start paying attention to what they say, too, and you can’t put up with that shit,” McCarthy added later. “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?”

McCarthy in Hot Water

The newly published recordings also come just days after The Times reported that McCarthy had told members on a call after the insurrection that he would urge Trump to resign.

McCarthy initially called the reporting “totally false and wrong,” but shortly after his denial, The Times received permission from their source to publish audio where he can be heard saying precisely that.

McCarthy, for his part, has tried to spin the situation, claiming that his remarks were still true because he never actually followed through on the plan to call Trump. 

Still, the situation prompted widespread backlash from the far-right faction of the Republican party. 

Multiple people expressed hesitancy about their support for McCarthy as Speaker of the House if Republicans take control of the chamber in the midterm elections. Some said they could not trust him.

Speaking on his show Tuesday, Foxs News host Tucker Carlson called McCarthy “a puppet of the Democratic Party.”

Gaetz also responded with ire, tweeting out a statement in which he referred to the call as “sniveling” and said of McCarthy and Scalise: “This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders.”

Other members mentioned in the call, however, appeared to brush it off. In a statement to Axios, Moore claimed that the story was engineered by “RINOS” (Republicans in Name Only), and that “Republicans will be more united than ever after taking back the House this November.”

It currently remains unclear whether these revelations with pose any long-term threat to McCarthy, but if Trump is any indication of the far-right party line, the House leader may be in the clear.

After The Times published the audio of McCarthy saying Trump should resign, the former president told The Wall Street Journal that the relationship between the two men was untroubled.

“I think it’s all a big compliment, frankly,” he added. “They realized they were wrong and supported me.”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Axios) (The Washington Post)

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