WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, a outstanding conservative in Congress and an in depth ally of former President Donald Trump, mentioned Tuesday he’s being investigated by the Justice Division over a former relationship however denied any legal wrongdoing.
Gaetz, who represents components of western Florida, informed Axios that his legal professionals have been knowledgeable that he was the topic of an investigation “relating to sexual conduct with girls” however that he was not a goal of the probe. He denied that he ever had a relationship with any underage ladies and mentioned the allegations in opposition to him have been “as searing as they’re false.”
A topic is conventionally regarded as somebody whose actions fall inside the scope of a legal investigation, whereas a goal is somebody whom prosecutors have gathered proof linking to against the law. However throughout the course of an investigation, a topic can develop into a goal.
His feedback got here shortly after the New York Occasions reported that Gaetz was beneath investigation by the Justice Division to find out if he violated federal intercourse trafficking legal guidelines and had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 17-year-old, whereas paying her to journey with him.
Gaetz alleged that the allegations have been a part of an extortion plot by a former Justice Division official, whom he didn’t title.
“Over the previous a number of weeks my household and I’ve been victims of an organized legal extortion involving a former DOJ official in search of $25 million whereas threatening to smear my title,” Gaetz mentioned in a press release.
Gaetz mentioned his household has been cooperating with the FBI and mentioned his father was sporting a recording gadget, on the FBI’s path, “to catch these criminals.” He demanded the Justice Division launch the recordings.
“No a part of the allegations in opposition to me are true, and the individuals pushing these lies are targets of the continued extortion investigation,” he mentioned.
The Occasions cited three individuals acquainted with the matter, saying the scrutiny was a part of a broader Justice Division probe into certainly one of his political allies and fellow Florida politician, Joel Greenberg, who was indicted final summer time on intercourse trafficking and different fees that he stalked a political opponent. A choose ordered the previous tax collector again to jail earlier this month for violating the situations of his launch.
“I consider that there are individuals on the Division of Justice who’re attempting to criminalize my sexual conduct, , after I was a single man,” Gaetz informed Axios.
“I’ve undoubtedly, in my single days, supplied for girls I’ve dated,” Gaetz mentioned. “You already know, I’ve paid for flights, for lodge rooms. I’ve been, , beneficiant as a accomplice. I believe somebody is attempting to make that look legal when it isn’t.”
Gaetz has not been charged with against the law. The Justice Division didn’t instantly remark.
Related Press author Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this report.