Matt Gaetz puts on makeup in HBO documentary 'The Swamp'

Matt Gaetz: Everything we know about investigation into Trump supporting congressman

Florida conservative claims it is all part of $25 million extortion plot against him

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
@graemekmassie
Wednesday 31 March 2021 02:45
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Congressman Matt Gaetz has fiercely denied allegations of sexual misconduct against him and claimed instead they are part of a $25 million organised crime extortion plot.

The Republican lawmaker is being investigated by the Justice Department over the nature of his relationship with a 17-year-old girl and whether he paid for her to travel with him, according to the New York Times.

Mr Gaetz, 38, told Axios that the details of the allegations are “unclear” and strongly denied any wrongdoing.

“The allegations against me are as searing as they are false,” Mr Gaetz said in a 13-minute phone interview with Axios. 

“I believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to criminalise my sexual conduct, you know, when I was a single guy.”

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And he added: ”The allegations of sexual misconduct against me are false.

“They are rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million … in exchange for making this case go away.”

No charges have been brought against Mr Gaetz.

The New York Times reported that the investigation stemmed from an existing investigation into one of Mr Gaetz’s political allies, Joel Greenberg.

He was indicted last summer on charges including sex trafficking of a child, according to the newspaper.

The pro-Trump Florida politician then took to Twitter to again deny any claims against him, and to describe the extortion scheme in more detail.

“Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an organised criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name,” he tweeted.

“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.”

Mr Gaetz told Axios that he and his father had been working with the FBI in the Northern District of Florida on the extortion case.

He added that his lawyers had been told by the DOJ that “I was not a target but a subject of an investigation regarding sexual conduct with women.”

When asked what the investigation could be into, Mr Gaetz replied: “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.”

And he told Axios that he was “absolutely” confident that none of the women he had dated were minors.

Mr Gaetz told the New York Post that he became aware of the investigation after two of his ex-girlfriends were contacted by authorities.

“They were asked why I had given them plane tickets, money, and other interactions. They were in their 20s,” he said.

Mr Gaetz got engaged last December to Ginger Luckey, the sister of Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey.

The Justice Department has declined to comment.

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